Mariza: Fado Em Mim

Gypsy Flores


Fado Em Mim

Label: World Connections
US Release Date: 2002-04-09
UK Release Date: 2002-03-25
"The Rain Listened and Whispered;
My Secret to the City;
And Now When it Taps on my Window;
It Still Brings That Sad Nostalgia"
Translation from the Portuguese to "Chuva", Composed by Jorge Fernando

Ah! Cidade de Lisboa! Lisboa Antigua -- home of my ancestors, city of sorrow, birthplace of the queen of fado, Amalia Rodrigues, and the city whose singing traditions the best of the current contenders for Amalia's crown -- Cristina Branco, Mariza, and Dulce Pontes -- have embraced.

Though there are many fados that are instrumental, fado is mainly poetry set to music -- poetry that essentially expresses the Portuguese soul somewhat similar to the blues of the Mississippi delta or the rembetic music of Greece. It is music permeated with sadness and longing, possibly created by Portuguese sailors and thus has been influenced by many other cultures such as Africa and Brazil. (Mariza actually spent time in Brazil to learn more about its music and rhythms).

There are actually two major fado traditions in Portugal. In the ancient university town of Coimbra, it is one traditionally of professional men -- doctors, lawyers, and university students (Dr. Edmundo de Bettancourt being the most well known); whereas the Lisbon tradition is both men and women usually from the working class. It is this Lisbon tradition that fadista Mariza comes from. Although she was born in Mozambique, her family moved to Mouraria, a traditional neighborhood of Lisbon, when she was 3. Her parents owned a restaurant and fado house where Mariza heard fado performed on the weekends. She began to sing fado when she was five. Since she couldn't read yet, her father drew pictures illustrating the words for her. Now, at 26, she has cultivated a powerful singing voice combined with a warm and elegant style that belies her youth.

I recently saw her in concert at the Cocoanut Grove in Santa Cruz, California on her first tour of the U.S. She proved herself not only to be lovely and elegant, but also warm, friendly and humorous. For her encore piece, she came down off the stage with her musicians. They set up in the middle of the large, packed ballroom and she sang "Povo Que Lavas No Rio" without any amplification, completely filling the room with her astounding voice -- even reaching those sitting in the balcony far above. The audience was well represented by the Portuguese population of the central coast and cries of Bravo and Ay Fadista! could be heard throughout the room during the standing ovation.

Her first CD Fado em Mim lives up to the fanfare that has surrounded its release. Although she sings many classic fados associated with Amalia such as "Barco Negro", she endows them with her unique style and delivery; thus avoiding sounding clichéd. She is a highly emotional singer whether it be expressing saudade (roughly translated, the unendurable sadness of the Portuguese) or great joy and humor.

As Nuno Nazareth Fernandes describes her in the liner notes to the CD, Mariza is "someone sent by the Great Creator to reinvent the fado." Quite something to have to live up to; but when one hears her sing "Chuva", "Ó Gente Da Minha Terra", and even "Barco Negro" one is convinced that his words are indeed true. (She actually sings " Ó Gente Da Minha Terra" twice on the album, one with the traditional instruments of fados -- Portuguese guitar (a twelve string, tear-dropped shaped national instrument), double bass, and classical guitar. As a hidden track at the end, she adds jazz elements for a mournful, more modern sounding one with just piano accompaniment.) Like Dulce Ponte's version of "Lagrimas" or Cristina Branco's "Ay Vida", Mariza's rendering of the original song "Chuva" is one of life's great experiences.

On Fado Em Mim, Mariza sings six traditional and six original fados. Three of the fados on her CD are ones that are associated with Amalia Rodrigues -- "Maria Lisboa", "Barco Negro", and " Há Festa Na Mouraria". Mariza speaks with reverence of Amalia and calls her the great diva of Portugal. She feels complimented when people compare her to Amalia; but also feels that she has many differences and is still young and developing her style. Nonetheless, she feels that Amalia Rodrigues left a legacy of many great fados and in reverence to the diva, Portugal's young fado singers need to keep Amalia's repertoire alive and vital. With outstanding young singers like Mariza, there is no chance that Portugal's musical heritage will be lost.





The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.