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Cangoma Calling.

Spirits and Rhythms of Freedom in Brazilian Jongo Slavery Songs

Edited by Pedro Meira Monteiro and Michael Stone.

Cangoma Calling presents the vital oral heritage of the last generation of slaves in the New World, drawing upon an extraordinary trove of previously unknown field recordings of former Brazilian slaves singing jongo work songs and signifying chants. On par with the Library of Congress archive of former slaves’ testimony made during the Great Depression, these unique jongo recordings owe their existence to historian Stanley Stein, who collected them in Brazil in the late 1940s. The book considers how the jongo legacy resonates within the wider scope of the African Diaspora. Its contributors (historians, literary critics, ethnomusicologists, and social scientists from Brazil, the Caribbean, and the United States) elaborate a comparative framework to bring a fresh perspective to conceptualizing New World African expressivity. Complementing the volume are Stein’s striking photographs and original jongo field recordings. Audio files are available online. Finally, linking past and present experience, Cangoma Calling draws connections between Anglo- and Latin-African American cultural histories, suggesting how Central and West African traditions have taken original shape in the Americas. Thus the book demonstrates that jongo is anything but antiquarian folklore; indeed, it forms the basis of an inter-generational movement among black cultural activists and artists in Brazil, where jongo festivals now attract young people from around the country, and where new jongos are being composed and sung daily.

Cangoma Calling was reviewed by Michael Iyanga for the Latin American Music Review 36.1 (2015). More here.

The book was also reviewed by Stephen A. Bocskay for ellipsis 13 (2015). More here.