A contemporary percussionist and educator, Marcus Santos is a native of Bahia, Brazil. He commits his life to the study, teaching and performance of his hometown’s Afro-Brazilian music and heritage. Marcus performed for the president of Brazil, TEDx and with the “One World Band” produced by MTV. Marcus also played at the Sony Pictures Oscar nominated movie “Rachel’s getting Married” with Anne Hathaway. He has been honored with the Outstanding Arts Performer Award by the Brazilian Immigrant Center (2008) as well as Outstanding Percussionist Award by Berklee College of Music in 2004.
Marcus produced his own DVD “Modern Approach to Pandeiro” and performed in the DVD “Musically Speaking II” by BOSE. Marcus has lead workshops on Afro-Brazilian percussion and music for social change in universities and conventions around the world such as Carnegie Hall, PASIC and Harvard. He’s currently the director of the Grooversity network project, and artistically directs eleven drumming groups in the US, Canada and Italy.
Can you tell us more about what you do?
I am the director of Grooversity. Grooversity has three missions: Drumming Curriculum System, Worldwide Network of drumming groups and drumming for social change.
There are drumming groups in eleven cities in the US, Canada and Italy currently using the Grooversity curriculum. Our curriculum is based on the drumming tradition of my hometown Salvador, Bahia in Brazil with borrowed concepts from global drumming styles. One huge influence and an amazing mentor for the development of our curriculum was Richard Saunders.
We have been using the Grooversity curriculum at Somerville Public Schools for over 5 years now and Rich Saunders’ inspirational vision has been essential to our international outreach!
Every drumming group using the Grooversity curriculum is positively influencing their communities. In Somerville, we are making sure that we have a music program that reflects our city’s diversity and offers a smooth transition to a new immigrant student to the American educational system.
Are there some past projects you’d like to mention in more detail?
Grooversity and the Somerville Music department has been featured in a few amazing events! We had the opportunity to perform to the President of Brazil when she was visiting Deval Patrick. We also had the humbling opportunity to be part of the first TEDx Somerville.
Do you have a new project you’re working on, or an event that’s coming up?
We are currently working on two drumming festivals and a partnership with Carnegie Hall’s educational department.
We will be producing educational drumming videos for the Carnegie Hall online educational program. They are very impressed with how our current videos turned out, and would like to have brand new educational videos on their website as well! Here are some of the videos.
In June 2013, we will do our first Grooversity summit in LA that will involve training for Grooversity directors. We will also perform for Paul Newman’s special kids organization.
We are also starting to brainstorm our second Grooversity Percussion Day festival that will happen in the Fall of 2013. Our goal for this year’s festival is to bring a drumming celebrity. Our festival last year was a great success, with people watching it worldwide
Why do you do what you do? What’s something you get out of it?
That’s a tricky question! I don’t want to sound cheesy but I am a strong believer that one must do what makes one happy regardless of financial compensations. If I had listened to my high school counselors, I would be a lawyer or a doctor in Brazil. Once again, I don’t want to sound cheesy but I can humbly say that I have been blessed by traveling the world while making people happy through drumming and making a difference in their communities
What got you involved in doing what you do? Is there someone or something that was important in getting you on your way?
Everyone in Brazil plays a percussion instrument. It’s really common in Brazilian culture to have people playing music during social gatherings-- although what made me be a full time musician was the amount of happiness that drumming brought to me and people around me. Throughout the years, I had amazing mentors such as Memo Acevedo, who was the first one to sign me to a percussion instruments endorsement, and Rich Saunders, who made me grow so much as a music educator and he still keeps kicking my tail!
Any thoughts on the local Somerville, or Boston area creative scene?
I learned to love our city. It feels good to be a Somervillen! Our leadership is extremely supportive of arts and creates a perfect scenario for people like me to live in. From the Mayor to the music director of Somerville Public Schools, from Somerville Arts Council to SCATV. Somerville rocks... actually sambas, rumbas.