Ismael Silva was born in Niterói, a city across Guanabara Bay from Rio De Janeiro. An early sambista (samba musician), Silva was instrumental in the founding of Deixa Falar, one of the first Samba Schools in Brazil. Together with other samba artists—Bide, Nilton Bastos, and Armando Marcal—he helped plant the seed for Brazil's fledgling Escola de Samba (samba school) system. These four legendary musicians are often referred to as the Turma do Estácio (the Estácio Gang), Estácio being a neighborhhood in Rio de Janeiro. Originally, their “school” was more of a music-making club than place of instruction. In fact, it was called a school only because it happened to be situated across the street from a neighborhood grammar school.
In 1929, Ismael Silva and the other members of Deixa Falar were among the first blacks to formally participate in Carnival Previously ...
A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.