Axé music

Axé music is a popular music genre originated in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil approximately in 1986, fusing different Afro-Brazilian genres, such as Caribe's Marcha, Frevo, Forró and Reggae, with its fusian genre that is known as Calypso. The most important creator of this music style was Alfredo Moura, conducting musicians like Carlinhos Brown, Luiz Caldas, Sarajane and others. The word "axé" comes from a greeting ritual used in the Candomblé and Umbanda religions that means "good vibration".

Origin of the term "Axé"

The term "axé" began as an insult, intended to point out the perceived pretentiousness of the genre. It was applied vaguely, however, and anything recorded in Salvador was soon nicknamed "axé".


When Daniela Mercury released "O Canto da Cidade" in 1992, axé entered the mainstream pop music scene and became one of the most popular genres in Brazil. Two years before, the American and European release of Margareth Menezes' "Elegibô" took the style to international audiences.

Roots of "Axé"

The root of axé is in "guitarra baiana", a 1950s guitar style that used electric guitars to play the frevo from Pernambuco. This genre was purely instrumental, and remained so until the 1970s, when Moraes Moreira (of the band Novos Baianos) went solo.

Carnival bands like Filhos de Gandhi, Olodum and Muzenza then fused the electric frevo with maracatu and Olodum rhythms, African ijexá and Caribbean merengue. Olodum's afro-music fusion was a Bahian success in the 1980s and was followed by deboche ("debauchery"), an electric frevo/ijexá fusion.

"Axé" in the 1990's

The release of "O Canto da Cidade" set the stage for artist and bands like Ivete Sangalo, Banda Cheiro de Amor, Banda Eva, Bandamel, Asa de Águia and Chiclete com Banana.

Though axé was very popular through the 1990s, it had famous detractors like Dorival Caymmi. On the other hand, Caetano Veloso supported it.

The year of 1995 saw one of the biggest commercial successes to come out of Salvador, Gera Samba (renamed É o Tchan), who pioneered a sexy image and crossover appeal, and was very criticized because of this.

"Axé" today

Currently, the biggest axé music star is Ivete Sangalo.

Axé Bahia is a six-member eurodance/axé music group from Brazil, who achieved fame in South America with their single "Beijo na Boca", particularly the Spanish-language version, "Beso en la Boca".

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