US Mag : Please introduce yourself to the readers and Who or what inspired you to get into this profession?
My name is Stacy Kovacs and I’m the founder and artistic Director of FogoAzul NYC! We’re New York city’s only all women Brazilian samba band, marching band, and drumline! I’ve been playing music since I was a child. I’ve been in marching bands and music group’s as long as I can remember. I was inspired to start my own all Women’s group in 2011 when I saw Batala for the first time. I started Batala New York City in 2012, and in summer 2016 left the Batala organization and rebranded to my current group, FogoAzul NYC. I am inspired by Brazilian rhythms and spreading this music as far and wide as possible.
US Mag : We been hearing a lot about you, and your all women’s Brazilian drumming group, so we notice your starting to gain a lot of attention how does it feel?
It feels great! It was a lot of working making the transition. We built a strong social media and fan base in the old group and took it to FogoAzul NYC. We had a lot of great performances as Batala New York City and we are looking forward to building on the reputation I built as musical director with the bookers and people of NYC. Spreading this amazing music is an honor and we love doing it!
US Mag : What is the history of FogoAzul NYC ?
FogoAzul NYC has been in my brain for about 2 years. FogoAzul NYC is part samba band, part marching band, and a BIG part drumline. In July 2016, Dany Johnson and I officially left Batala NYC, along with about a dozen others to continue the tradition of all women drumming playing Brazilian music. We’re now part of the Grooversity network which is the innovative and creative drumming system that Marcus Santos has developed for education and entertainment purposes. It promotes community outreach and social change by targeting diversity awareness. This multi-city percussion project is creating a network of people. Grooversity’s network includes people of different ethnicities, ages, and races. It portrays a positive message by engaging communities to appreciate diversity, support civil rights, encourage self-esteem, and most importantly, enjoyment. The Grooversity system is Marcus’ original drumming compositions based on the traditional Afro Brazilian rhythms, which he has combined with a world music perspective and a modern approach. Grooversity is fun, interactive and inclusive. Every person and instrument is equally important and essential for the ensemble. Some patterns are intricate and challenging for the most experienced professional drummer, and others are simpler yet equally important patterns for the amateur player. In fact, the simplest patterns are the most important components of the ensemble because they keep the other elements together. FogoAzul NYC subscribed to this method of learning and supports the mission!
US Mag : What projects do you have coming up ?
On December 21st we’re doing Make Music NY Winter, called Parranda de Inverno. The public is invited to travel through midtown Manhattan in a parade of rhythm and dance! Participants are encouraged to bring their Brazilian percussion instruments, or simply look, listen, and walk with FogoAzul NYC. The drumline will make its way around Midtown Manhattan, passing through 46th Street’s Little Brazil and the festive plazas along 6th Avenue.
We’re also booked for the annual Barrio Three Kings Day parade, the Lunar New Year Parade, multiple events during Women’s History Month, and many other spring time events including already being booked for multiple Pride Celebrations in June.
US Mag : Why did you leave Batala NYC?
I left Batala NYC for a few reasons. Being a director of a Batala group was fun, but musically stifling. I was not allowed to stray from the global group’s repertoire, nor add different instruments to the band. I learned a ton from Batala and had been given many opportunities to travel through it. In Januray 2016, I decided I wanted to leave Batala but there were no musically qualified women in the group to take over. In July 2016, pure luck found me, and there was a mutiny by a few of the women in Batala. Sensing my desire to leave, they went behind my back to our maestro, Giba Gonçalves to start another Batala in New York. . He ultimately said no. What ensued was a few weeks of cat fighting within the group, splitting of the group, behavioral problems, backstabbing, lying, manipulating, and gas lighting of newer members of the group by veteran members. I tried for a short period to keep it going, but realized the group itself as it was, was imploding. With this destruction of the group, these women did me a favor by giving me an easy out! I stepped down, and I subsequently took the drums I owned and started a different group! I now have as much music and artistic freedom as I desire, as well as a 5 year history of relationship building with event planners and promoters in the NYC area. There’s a group still called Batala in NYC. They were offered the name, all the social media, and half of the drums, but opted to completely attempt to erase Batala NYC and myself from history by starting another Batala under a different name. Unfortunately, you can’t erase history!
US Mag : What kind of training have you had, if any ?
My training started on piano when I was about 6-7 years old. I then started playing drums in school band at age 8. In high school I switched to trombone. I ended up heading to Michigan State University to play trombone in the Spartan Marching band. After college, I let music go to pursue a career in medicine. Upon moving to New York City in 2005, I joined multiple marching bands. I started samba drumming and from there my Brazilian drumming career took off!
US Mag : If you could perform anywhere, in the world, where would it have to be?
My goal is to perform at Radio City Music Hall in NYC. My ultimate dream is to play for, or with, or even better open for Madonna!
US Mag : What has been one of the most exciting achievements of your career so far ?
One of the most exciting achievements of my career so far has been playing in the FIFA Women’s World cup championship celebration at City Hall in Manhattan. Gloria Steinhem was in the front row. I got to meet her and talk to her. She blew kisses at me after the performance!! Other notable things have been opening for the Rolling Stones on their 50th Anniversary Tour, playing with Lorde and Disclosure on Saturday Night Live, and Batala having a cameo in the TMNT 2016 Summer blockbuster movie.
US Mag : Everybody needs time out. What do you do in your free time?
In my free time i work in a hospital! I am a Physician Assistant in a major NYC emergency room. When I’m not working or playing music, I decompress by sitting in coffee shops and reading or surfing the web.
US Mag : Are you active on social media? what’s the best way to follow you?
5. We have a huge fan base on multiple social media platforms! You can follow us on Social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) : @FogoAzulNY You can also find us at www.fogoazulnyc.com