Living from Music in Salvador
Professional Musicians and the Capital of Afro-Brazil
Living from Music in Salvador is an examination of music as labor, and musicians as laborers, in Salvador da Bahia, an urban state capital widely regarded as Brazil's most African city. Drawing on fieldwork that spans sixteen years, the book explores local musicians' lives and labors as members of a flexible work force in a setting that is culturally rich but economically poor. Often hidden in plain sight, these musician-workers are crucial participants in the economy of a city of nearly three million people that relies heavily on the commodification of Afro-diasporic expressive culture. Performing in clubs and restaurants, during Carnaval parades and festival celebrations, and on concert stages and recordings (at times backing marquee artists), they support themselves and their families and also serve as public representatives of Bahian culture to residents and tourists alike. Yet such audibility and the wages they earn from it are contingent on their ability to navigate complex and often contradictory industry and societal conditions that are profoundly informed by the entrenched legacies of colonization, the African slave trade, and the plantation system.
"Studies of popular music (or any sort, for that matter) have tended to focus on people who are exceptional, successful. This necessary book reminds us that most musicians are neither, yet they are by far the most common. Living from Music in Salvador helps us reorient our gaze toward workaday musicians not just in Brazil but everywhere."
"Between 'work' and 'play', from 'working to work' to performance: a provocative ethnography of professional musicians in various musical circuits of Salvador, Brazil, well known for its creative industry."