A contemporary percussionist and educator, Marcus Santos is a native of Salvador City in Bahia, Brazil. Having been raised in the uniquely rich African-influenced culture of Bahia, Santos has passionately committed his life to the study, preservation, and teaching of Afro-Brazilian music and heritage. His dedication to this cause has earned him a variety of opportunities and international success.
After first studying music and business at the Universidade Federal da Bahia, Marcus obtained a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he received a bachelor of arts degree in the performance of hand percussion, as well as the Outstanding Musician and Community Service through Music awards.
His talents as a musician have landed him appearances on NBC (U.S.), MTV (Thailand), TV Globo (Brazil), and numerous venues around the world, including the Hard Rock Café (Orlando, U.S.), Kouen Mae Dori Classics (Tokyo, Japan), Rock in Rio (Brazil), Buddha (Mexico), Lincoln Center (New York, U.S.), Blend (Honduras), Parco della Musica (Rome, Italy), Holland Festival (Amsterdam, Holland) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, U.S.).
As an educator, Santos has led numerous workshops in Afro-Brazilian percussion at MIT, Harvard University, Brown University, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Nagoya University (Nagoya, Japan) and Berklee College of Music. He currently works as a teacher at Somerville Public High School and is the artistic director of five drumming groups in the states of Massachusetts, Ohio, Philadelphia, Colorado, and Arizona in the U.S. In Boston, Santos is the cofounder and artistic director of AfroBrazil, an organization whose mission is to promote and teach Afro-Brazilian music and culture in the United States. He has also released A Modern Approach to Pandeiro, an instructional DVD on pandeiro playing that is now internationally distributed with subtitles in six languages.
Santos has shared the stage with Brand New Heavies (U.K.), 10-time Grammy Award–winner Paquito D'Rivera (Cuba), the Gipsy Kings (France) and Mambolada (Brazil). In 2000, he worked as director of percussion for a nationally broadcast \flamenco dance television special in Brazil called Gitana, and in 2001 he also recorded the Mambolada’s album, Larica Maria, which sold more than 100,000 copies in Brazil alone. In 2007, Santos was awarded with an endorsement from the world’s leading producer of percussion instruments, Latin Percussion, and the world leader producer of sticks, Vic Firth. In 2009, he was awarded another endorsement by Cooperman Frame Drums and now uses their top-line pandeiros in his workshops worldwide.
In July 2007, Santos taught and led a parading group of 300 drummers in Cleveland, Ohio, alongside Paul Simon’s percussionist, Jamey Haddad. In October of that same year, he taught master classes and performed in Pittsburgh at Drum Talk 2007, a festival that also featured Giovanni Hidalgo (Dizzy Gillespie), Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead), and Zakir Hussain (John McLaughlin). Also in October, Santos performed in the Sony Pictures Oscar-nominated movie Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway along with Cyro Baptista (Herbie Hancock) and directed by Grammy Award–winning director Jonathan Demme (Saturday Night Live, Philadelphia, Silence of the Lambs). That November, Santos performed at the world’s largest percussion event, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC), held in Columbus, Ohio.
In January 2008, Santos recorded the DVD Musically Speaking II, produced by BOSE and distributed in 33 countries, including China and Japan. In March, he toured Italy with the show La Passion by Grammy-nominee Osvaldo Golijov. In April, hereceived the most prestigious award from the Brazilian community in the U.S. when the Brazilian Immigrant Center honored him with the Outstanding Arts Performer award.
August 2009 was an Asia tour month. MTV produced a show entitled One World Party, in which Santos performed with musicians from different parts of the world, such as Bibi McGill (Beyonce’s music director and guitar player) and Jerry Meehan (Robbie Williams). On that same show, he also had the opportunity to play with the Brand New Heavies from England. On the second half of the month, he did a twelve-day tour of shows and workshops in Japan. In October, Santos was invited for a series of workshops and a concert at the Cultural Institute Brazil Venezuela in Caracas.
Marcus’ passion for Afro-Brazilian music and culture comes through in each of his many performances, classes, and workshops.