Mestre Camisa Roxa was considered Mestre Bimba’s best student. An authoritative council of Mestres gave him the lifetime title of “Grão-Mestre” from ABADÁ-Capoeira. This title indicates that he is the highest-ranking guide and counselor in all of ABADÁ-Capoeira worldwide. He is the capoeirista that has contributed the most to spreading Capoeira around the world, by presenting Capoeira as a Brazilian art form and culture in more than 50 countries.
Grão-Mestre Camisa Roxa was born Edvaldo Carneiro da Silva in 1944 and spent his childhood on the Fazenda Estiva, a farm in the interior of Salvador, Bahia. He was the eldest of ten children, and he was greatly respected by his younger siblings, a number of whom followed in his footsteps in life and in capoeira.
When he was 10 years old, Grão-Mestre Camisa Roxa began to play Capoeira. In the 1960s, he left his family ranch for the capital city in order to complete his high school education. In addition to his school work, he also began studying Capoeira at Bimba’s Academy. He was an apt and hardworking pupil, and eventually gained recognition as Bimba’s best student.
Grão Mestre’s nickname comes from the fact that he would always wear a purple shirt (camisa roxa) at the Capoeira rodas that he attended in Bahia. He also liked to play in the rodas of traditional Capoeira at Mestre Pastinha’s academy and at Mestres Waldemar and Traíra’s academy, at Rua Pero Vaz, where he was much respected for his talent and knowledge of Capoeira.
When he was 21, Grão-Mestre Camisa Roxa's father died, and he became the patriarch of his family. He became their second father, and was greatly admired by all. In fact, three of his brothers—Ermival, Pedrinho, and José Tadeu—followed in his footsteps, training Capoeira with Mestre Bimba at his academy in Salvador. Like their brother, all three became alunos formados, graduates, of the Acadamia de Mestre Bimba.
Camisa Roxa eventually began teaching Capoeira in a number of academies and clubs in Salvador. Inspired by the idea of spreading the practice of Capoeira, Camisa Roxa helped form the folkloric dance company Olodum Maré, a travelling performance group to promote traditional arts, including Capoeira, throughout Brazil. After completing a year-long tour of the country, the group planned a tour of Europe under the name "Brasil Tropical." The Brasil Tropical troupe would become dedicated to promoting the art of Capoeira throughout the world.
Grão Mestre Camisa Roxa lived the last years in Austria. He has coordinated centers of ABADÁ-Capoeira in Europe and he has been the organizer for the ABADÁ Capoeira "Jogos Europeus". Camisa Roxa dedicated a lot of his time to research Capoeira, always pursuing new routes and ways to make Capoeira more visible around the world. To him, in Brazil, there should be more unity among the different groups, so that it is possible to better organize activities and courses. He said “Maybe a more disciplined Capoeira and more union among the leaders will produce a more professional and responsible Capoeira”. Camisa Roxa says that when he passes on his experience he attempts to pay back all the great things that Capoeira has given him.
Grão-Mestre Camisa Roxa passed away 18t April 2013 in Salvador (Brazil)