Gloria Estefan: Sangre Yoruba premieres on PBS Great Performances on Friday, July 9, 2021 at 9pm ET. In New York City, that’s WNET PBS Thirteen. pbs.org
It’s available for streaming through August 6, 2021 at thirteen.org
Gloria Estefan: Sangre Yoruba is a Great Performance
This show is built around Gloria’s latest album “Brazil305” (2020) with samba versions of her greatest hits, and her versions of some classic samba.
In this great performance, Gloria travels through Salvador, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro exploring the history of samba and its evolution today with some great Brazilian artists including Maria Rita, Carlinhos Brown and Jorge Aragão. It’s interesting history and a beautiful travel story. Brazil is picturesque and modern samba is a party, so most everyone is smiling and having fun.
Gloria tells some of her own story too. She tells some of her sorrows, but especially how her Abuela encouraged her to sing and to preserve her traditions. Every Latin country is unique, but we share many things in common.
The story follows samba’s origins as a Bantu rhythm for rituals of faith that rooted in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil as samba. This became Samba a Roda, a woman’s ritual. When human slavery in Brazil was abolished in 1888, women looking for work in Rio de Janeiro brought their samba with them. One woman famously kept samba parties going.
In the 1930s, the Brazilian government began promoting samba as Brazilian identity and sponsored the samba schools. Its roots are old, but modern samba really grew out of this promotion. Brazilian Carnival started as sponsored samba competitions. Samba keeps evolving, taking on new forms and new fusions.
The show builds really well as Gloria sings some new material as samba and finishes at a Candomblé samba school. Women play an important role in samba to this day. The woman’s drum line at the end will definitely get you on your feet.
Look at the two Glorias, one Euro-Cuban, and one Afro-Cuban. To be Latin is to be both, but where do you think Gloria Estefan’s light comes from?
The show is by Great Performances producers Bill O’Donnell and David Horn.