What is Forro?
Forró, like bluegrass in the United States, is a diverse genre of music which includes a number of dance rhythms and song genres, as well as a rich oral tradition of stories and imageries of the dry backlands of Northeastern Brazil. While there have been a variety of theories as to the origins of the word forró, the most likely is the folk term forrobodó, which means a huge, crazy party full of dancing, drinking, and abandon. Forro is rough, raucous, emotionally charged and, above all, a music of the people.
The golden age of forró came about during the mid-twentieth century, when the great accordionist and songwriter, Luiz Gonzaga, coalesced the folk dance and musical traditions he grew up with in rural Pernambuco into a radio-friendly popular music that took all of Brazil by storm. Hits like Baião, O Xôte das Meninas, and, above all, Asa Branca, became standards of Brazilian popular music that are regularly performed today. Generations later, Forró is still very much a living music tradition in Northeastern Brazil, as well as cultural enclaves throughout Brazil, especially in the large cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia.
While some of the characters, (Lampião the bandit, the ascetic priest Antônio Conselheiro), places (Gonzaga's hometown of Exú, the interior city of Juazeiro do Norte), and terminology (xodó meaning sweetheart, danado meaning incorrigible) that appear in the songs are specific to the Northeast, the underlying themes of love, loss, hardship, and persistence are common to people around the world. We in Forró fo Sho believe that this music is timeless, its emotional content moving, and its rhythms irresistible.