Martinho da Vila, Carnival king

Forget Momo, the fat guy that, every year, is crowned Carnival King. The real sovereign of the giant feast that begins in a few weeks is Martinho da Vila. This composer of irresistible smile, now in his seventies, was responsible for some of the most memorable samba-enredos of Unidos de Vila Izabel, escola de samba that he personifies. Thanks to his creation “Kizomba – a Festa da Raça“, Vila Izabel won Rio’s Carnival in 1988. This samba enredo, as so many other compositions by Martinho, is about slavery, freedom and Zumbi, the rebel slave leader. The composer is a big activist for the right of Afro-Brazilians.

You can see this samba enredo here, interpreted by Dudu Nobre, with subtitles in Portuguese (I wish I could find a good footage of the carnival parade itself, but wasn’t that lucky):

Martinho da Vila is one of the very few sambistas with a CD that crossed the barrier of half a million records sold (Tá Delícia, Tá Gostoso, released in 1995).

Check also this beautiful slide show that matches the lyrics of his song Aquarela Brasileira (Brazilian Watercolor) with postcards of the country. It is a quick tour of different Brazilian cities and landscapes: