Batala NY

Batala New York City Drummers

Batala New York City Samba-Reggae Percussion Band.

Batala New York City Drummers. The big apple. Women playing the music of Brazil, specifically the State of Bahia. For New York City that meant a whole new opportunity for women to learn to play the drums way back in 2011. However, not just any drums. This was the opportunity to learn to play the surdo, the dobra, the repinique, and the snare drum. An opportunity to join a community of women who each have individual political views, aesthetic views, community ideals, and attitudes toward speaking out and being loud. Women in the USA aren’t generally asked as little girls to play the drum. They are asked to try the flute or violin, because drumming is typically a “male dominated” musical endeavor.

Women Drummers in New York City. Who are they?

In 2011, Stacy Kovacs experiences Batala DC at Brazilian Day in NY. She decides it’s time to start her own musical group, for women, playing drums. After a few months of communication with the men who run Batala as an organization from Brazil, she went to Brazil with Assistant Director Laura Torell to participate in Carnival with Cortejo Afro, an Afro-Bloco in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. At the time, they brought back 35 Batala drums to New York and put them together. Batala NYC took off. For 5 straight years Batala NYC continued to play at more and more events. They were becoming known as a party band in NYC, a wedding band in NYC, and an event band for all types of events. It was a great run.

All good things must come to an end.

The summer of 2016 proved difficult for members of Batala in New York. A small group of women within the band became frustrated with the  leadership structure, and quietly gathered supporters to undermine the leadership. They had secret meetings, secret facebook groups, and secret email lists, lawyers, international meetings online, and really…who needs that?   After that, Stacy walked away, took all the drums and equipment that was the property of Batala NYC LLC, and rebranded Batala NYC to FogoAzul NYC.  With that, Fogo Azul started in July 2016 with about 20-25 members.

Fogo Azul means Blue Fire in Portuguese.

And, as far as women drumming groups in New York, Batala New York City goes from Red to Blue.

Batala New York All Women Samba Reggae Percussion Band now co-exists alongside FogoAzul NYC, with both all women drumlines surviving in New York.
In a male dominated world of music, and especially drumming, women are often neglected.
This is exactly why Stacy left Batala and started FogoAzul NYC– she wanted a COMPLETELY women run project.  And that’s what FogoAzul NYC is.  It’s a woman built, managed, directed, and designed by women.

Let’s keep this history alive!  The new group called themselves Batala New York, and their new website has no information about the first 5 years of Batala New York City.  They *claim* to be a different group, but the group was started by members of Batala NYC.  They just changed their name and business structure! Same people, same costumes, same music…same parent organization lead by Giba Goncalves!  So, let’s not let the new group erase history! This website is a legacy site to Batala NYC! The original Batala in New York.  The second Batala band in the United States (Houston may have started sometime in there, but that history isn’t known as Batala Houston was always a bit on and off).

About the Original Founder and Director of Batala in New Your City.

Artistic Director, Stacy Kovacs
Stacy hails from sunny Orchard Park, NY where she grew up playing piano and taking tap dance lessons at age 5 and percussion at age 8. She was in many different musical organizations throughout her youth, and eventually learned trombone. With her trombone she played jazz with Dick Clark’s American bandstand show for high school students, marched up Main Street USA at Disney World, Orlando, FL, and was a participant in the 1993 opening ceremonies of the World University Games. Stacy then took her trombone to Michigan State University where she majored in Marching Band (actually, Physiology), and had opportunities to play at two NCAA Final Four basketball tournaments, 3 BCS Bowl Games (including the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii), and countless other events. Stacy then pursued graduate school and in the process put music aside. Fortunately, her training brought her to NYC in 2005 where she picked up the trombone again and joined the Big Apple Corps Marching band and the Rude Mechanical Orchestra. Missing the drumming she did as a child, she found Samba NY! and Philip Galinsky who showed her the ways of Brazilian percussion. Playing at NYC Brazilian Day 2011, she met MUNDO Batalá and was instantly captivated by the rhythms of samba reggae. It was no turning back for Stacy as she pursued the opportunity to start a NYC chapter of Batalá. After nearly 5 years of directing Batalá NYC, Stacy closed Batalá shop and started her own group called FogoAzul NYC. You can find Stacy and follow her at NYC’s only all Women Drumline, Marching Band, and Samba Band!