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The Afro-Brazilian group Ilê Aiyê was founded in 1974 by Antônio Carlos “Vovô” and Apolônio de Jesus in the neighborhood of Liberdade, the largest black population area of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. The expression stems from Yoruba language (ilê - home; aiyê - life) from may also be interpreted as 'eternal heaven'.
Ilê Aiyê works to raise the consciousness of the Bahian black community. Persecuted by the police and the media during its first years, and still controversial for only allowing blacks to parade with the group, Ilê Aiyê is a renowned element of Bahia’s carnival. The group pioneered the type of carnival group known as the bloco afro, featuring themes from global black cultures and history, and celebrating the aesthetic beauty of black people. All other blocos afros borrow elements originally created by Ilê Aiyê, including such groups founded shortly afterwards, such as Olodum and Malê Debalê.
During Bahian carnival, the group includes hundreds of musicians, dozens of dancers, and thousands of members. They traditionally begin their procession on the Saturday night of Carnaval at the home of the Dos Santos family, where for many years Mãe Hilda de Jitolu, the mother of co-founder Vovô presided as spiritual mother to the group and formal leader of a candomblé. As Ilê Aiyê passes, carnival crowds sing along by the thousands to songs about the importance of African and Afro-Brazilian culture and religion.
- 1984 - Canto Negro
- 1989 - Canto Negro II
- 1996 - Canto Negro III
- 1998 - Canto Negro IV
- 1999 - 25 Anos
- Riserio, A.(1981) Carnaval Ijexá: notas sobre afoxés e blocos do novo carnaval afrobaiano. Salvador: Corrupio; Perrone, C. and Dunn, C. (2002) Brazilian Popular Music and Globalization. NY: Routledge
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