Update 20/09/2020: Added “samba de roda” below.
Vou dizer a minha mulher, Paraná,
Capoeira me venceu, Paraná
Paraná ê, Paraná ê, Paraná
Paraná ê is the most recognizable capoeira song, and we’ve all sung it hundreds of times. But where does it come from and who wrote it? Even though we’ll never know for sure, there are some possibilities.
A lot of people claim the song was invented during the Paraguayan war, by the Brazilian soldiers (which were slaves and capoeiristas) who were marching back to Brazil alongside the Paraná river after victory.
There’s an article on Capoeira Connection explaining this theory: read it here.
Last week I came across an interesting video on Capoeira History, a new website by the Angolan Roots team led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Röhrig Assunção. In the video, Mestre Genaro retells the story of how he invented Paraná ê in the academy of Mestre Artur Emídio. Right before an important meeting, Mestre Paraná (who was also part of the academy and leader of the bateria) didn’t show up. Therefore, Mestre Genaro had to lead the bateria, angry with Mestre Paraná he started improvising and called him out for being late.
The video has English subtitles, be sure to check it out. It has some cool anecdotes!
Also, on the Capoeira Connection article, Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha left a comment mentioning this same theory.
Samba de roda
Another possibility is the song originated in samba de roda and was later adopted in capoeira. I’ve heard different mestres say this, but no one seems to know for sure how it originated and when it started being used in capoeira.
I came across this music video when doing some research. Totally unrelated to capoeira though.
And of course we have the Bollywood cover of Only The Strong’s “Paranauê”: