Acclaimed Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos has died at age 71. The eight-time Grammy Award-winner worked over the decades with well-known musicians such as Milton Nascimento. Vasconcelos died of lung cancer in the northeastern city of Recife where he was born. He was a master of the single-string percussion instrument known in Portuguese as the berimbao.
The American jazz magazine DownBeat named Vasconcelos percussionist of the year every year from 1983 to 1991. He started learning music with his musician father and by the time he was 12 he was playing a drum kit, performing at bars with local groups. Nana rose to national prominence after he moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s and started playing with Nascimento.
- Vasconcelos was born in Recife, Brazil. Beginning from 1967 he joined many artists’ works as a percussionist.
- The berimbau is a single-string percussion instrument, a musical bow, from Brazil.
- Originally from Africa where it receives different names, the berimbau was eventually incorporated into the practice of the Afro-Brazilian martial art capoeira, the berimbau (the soul of capoeira) leads the capoeiristas movement in the roda—the faster the berimbau is playing the faster the capoeirista moves in the game.
- The instrument is known for being the subject matter of a popular song by Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell, with lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes.
- The instrument is also a part of Candomblé-de-caboclo tradition.