Paraiso School of Samba Paraiso School of Samba Paraiso School of Samba
Dave Willetts

webpage updated: Sun 21 Jul 2024

David has been playing and teaching samba for more than 25 years, encouraging and introducing thousands of people of all ages and abilities to enjoy samba and carnaval, from nursery age children to professional musicians.
He was introduced to samba at the age of 8 when he saw someone playing cuica on TV at the 1970 world cup and his first live samba show was banging the crash barriers with a stick when Pele and Santos visited Villa Park in 1971.

He began parading with LSS in the mid 80s and was bateria director there for 11 years - he is currently the most experienced samba artist at Notting Hill Carnival, having paraded since 1987.

He has paraded and played with many of the great baterias in Rio de Janeiro including União da ilha, Unidos da Tijuca, Beija flor, Mocidade, Mangueira, São Clemente, Estacio de Sa, and Arranco as well as performing alongside many of Brasil's greatest musicians and artists including Martinho da Vila, Paolo Mouro, Bruno Ribas, Dominguinhos do Estacio, Emilinha Borba, Dudu Nobre, Paolinho Mocidade, Caetano Veloso, Virginia Rodriguez and Alcione.

He has worked alongside his musical mentor and friend Mestre Esteves to promote Rio samba in the UK for more than 15 years.
David was the first person in the UK to teach samba to primary school children and pioneered many of the ideas and practices which are now common in many school samba bands.
David was a founder of Paraiso and has been a bateria director since the school began. He is proud to be President of the Bateria.

Outside of samba, David lived and worked in Santiago de Cuba for 2 years during the early 90s, studying and playing carnival music and son, and for many years he led the children's carnival workshops and parades at the WOMAD festival. He was principal percussionist for the Midland Youth Orchestra, he has written chapters on Cuban and Brasilian music for tourist guides, has composed music for the theatre, recorded an eclectic album of self-penned songs and has been nominated as one of the 400 'most creative Britons' by a panel of distinguished artists, administrators and business leaders.


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Paraiso School of Samba is a Registered Charity number 1113593 and a Company Limited by Guarantee and registered in England and Wales number 5676918.
Paraiso Samba Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Paraiso School of Samba and is registered in England and Wales number 5732752.
Paraiso is a registered trade mark of Paraiso School of Samba.

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