Axé is a popular music genre originating in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil approximately in 1986, and fusing different Afro-Caribbean genres, such as Marcha, Reggae and Calypso. It also includes influences of Afro-Brazilian music such as Frevo, Forró and Carixada. The most important creators of this musical style were Alfredo Moura, Carlinhos Brown, Luiz Caldas, Sarajane and others. The word "axé" comes from a Yoruba religious greeting used in the Candomblé and Umbanda religions that means "soul", "light", "spirit" or "good vibration".
Origin of the term Axé
The term "axé" began as an insult, intended to point out the perceived pretentiousness of the genre. It was applied vaguely, however, and anything recorded in Salvador was soon nicknamed "axé".
When Daniela Mercury released "O Canto da Cidade" in 1992, axé entered the mainstream pop music scene and became one of the most popular genres in Brazil. Two years before, the American and European release of Margareth Menezes' "Elegibô" took the style to an international audience.
Roots of Axé
The root of axé is in guitarra baiana, a 1950s guitar style that used electric guitars to play the frevo from Pernambuco. This genre was purely instrumental and remained so until the 1970s, when Moraes Moreira (of the band Novos Baianos) went solo.
Axé was officially labeled after Luiz Caldas released his album Magia in 1985 and got super popular after Daniela Mercury became a big hit with her album so called "O Canto da Cidade".
Carnival bands like Filhos de Gandhi, Olodum and Muzenza then fused the electric frevo with maracatu and Olodum rhythms, African ijexá and Caribbean merengue. Olodum's afro-music fusion was a Bahian success in the 1980s and was followed by deboche (debauchery), an electric frevo/ijexá fusion.
Axé in 1990s
Currently, the biggest axé music stars are Ivete Sangalo and Cláudia Leitte. Axé Bahia is a six-member eurodance/axé music group from Brazil, who achieved fame in South America with their single "Beijo na Boca", particularly the Spanish-language version, "Beso en la Boca".
(from the article Axé music of Wikipedia)