Mariza interview

16. 7. 2007 | Rubriky: Články,Interviews, reviews,Multilingual

Transparente uses a richer accompaniment then the traditional fado setup. Which musicians will you bring on tour?

Transparente is closer to what I’ve been looking for as my sound, my Fado.
My main goal is to pass to the live performances the general sonority of this record so I’ll be adding to the traditional Fado combo (Portuguese guitar, classic guitar and acoustic bass), cello and percussion.
Luis Guerreiro on Portuguese Guitar, Antonio Neto on classical guitar, Vasco Sousa on acoustic bass, Paulo Moreira on Cello and Joao Pedro Ruela on percussion.

Where Fado was born? Only in Lisboa or are there Brasilian influences?

Fado’s history is kind of mysterious. Some theories says that the Portuguese sailors and the African slaves are in its base; According to some musicologists, Fado’s roots are also in the Lundum and Modinha; two kind of music styles coming from Brazil.
Fado started to appear in Lisbon in the beginning of the 19th century as an urban music and it was sung. Fado appears in a different form among the underprivileged and due to that it’s regarded as popular music. Fado was the people’s “newspaper”, it was through this song form that some news where known.

Was fado prohibited at any point? Was there a fado dance?

Portugal lived for 40 years under a dictatorial regime and Fado was a little the regime’s music. On February 25 1974, this regime had finally come to an end and Fado was put aside, it was somehow “locked up”. The only possible ways to listen to Fado was in the most traditional neighbourhoods of Lisbon, so, not prohibited, but out of “fashion” for some time, let’s say.
As I said before, some musicologists say Fado roots are Lundun and Modinha, which are known as a sensual music style that used to be danced in Brazil, it looks like that this was the way it arrived in Portugal, but the dance was so sensual that became a forbidden dance.

Originally, was it a street music? And when did fado happen to reach the
rich educated people?
Fado is very much a street music, which is learned from the elderly. It’s a tradition passed down orally and not through books or schools. It’s a music style where people express their deepest feelings and emotions. It was in Lisbon’s most typical neighbourhoods where the simple people lived, that it was possible to have contact with Fado. There was a point in history where the royalty started having Fado, but played with the piano. Some decades ago, Portuguese people started looking at Fado as the music that best represents Portugal; nowadays it is like this that people look at Fado, no matter age, class, etc.

What is important for a fado singer? Did you take any lessons? Do you
have a voice teacher?

I assume you mean important regarding the voice. Well, I like tea, and drink a lot of water!
I don’t really have singing lessons. I have, however, a teacher who looks after my voice as well as a doctor who’s always there for me.

Africans have a great talent for music. Do you feel the art of making
music is easier for you when your mother is an African?

It’s possible that the warm and melodically African rhythms may have influenced me, even if I don’t notice that. I’m very sure that these influences come from my mother. I was in Africa for a small period of time, but I grew up listening to music from Senegal, Antilles, Cape Verde and voices like Miram Makeba or Cesaria Evora.

Do you have any memories of childhood in Mozambique? Do you miss Africa?

I was 3 years old when I left Mozambique and most of my memories are from my grandfather (my mother’s father). I was very spoilt by him, as I was his first granddaughter. This is very typical in Africa, as the first-born is treated in a very special way.
My grand parents had a big farm where we used to spend our weekends. They had horses and lots of pigeons. My grandfather used to take me for long horse rides. In the morning we used to sit on the porch and he gave me fruits to eat.
As soon as my life allows me to, I’d love to travel to Mozambique and visit my family, also to remember everything I lived there when I was a child.

What exactly does mean the word Transparente, and how does it relate to
the theme of the album?

Transparente means crystal, clean. It reflects my maturity as a performer and my unstoppable search for my sonority. For my Fado.
Transparente is completely “naked” in poetry and way of singing. That’s me. That’s my music, my declaration of love to Fado.

Tell me about your African grandmother. Did she sing?

It was my grandfather who use to sing in family parties, but I can’t say that I have anyone in my family connected to music. My African grandmother didn’t know how to sing, she talked about one’s fate.

How did you collect material for the CD? Are there any cover versions?

I started by researching through the greatest Portuguese poets.
I could count on the help of three of the most important Portuguese songwriters. They wrote and composed songs, especially for me, like “Meu Fado Meu” [Paulo de Carvalho], or “Transparente” [Paulo Abreu Lima/Rui Veloso]. I also wanted to work with a younger composer from the new order, able to write and compose about the new Lisbon, so I found Pedro Campos, who wrote “Montras”.
I don’t think that there are cover versions in this album, but instead a tribute to the three most important people in the history of Fado, which I consider my teachers and my gurus: Amália Rodrigues, Fernando Mauricio and Carlos do Carmo.

Are there any links between fado and literature?

Fado, as well as poetry, expresses all kind of feelings. Without those feelings it would be impossible to talk about poetry or Fado.
Poetry is the highest level of literature. Through it, thoughts, emotions and feelings are expressed. Fado is a gathering of all of these.

Could you please introduce some of the authors?

Fernando Tordo is one of the best Portuguese songwriters who worked with me in this album by writing “Fado Tordo”.
Mario Pacheco, one of the best Portuguese guitar players, wrote and performed with Amália Rodrigues. He composed two songs for Transparente: ” Há uma música do Povo”, a poem by Fernando Pessoa, and “Há palavras que nos beijam” by Alexandre O’Neill. He had already worked with me in “Fado Curvo” with another poem by Fernando Pessoa: “Cavaleiro Monge”.
Paulo Abreu Lima is the author of “Transparente”, composed by Rui Veloso, another big Portuguese songwriter. Both of them had written and composed for me in “Fado Curvo” : “Feira de Castro”.

The “Recusa” is a very mysterious song. It indicates you are not just a
fado singer, but fado itself. But that sounds quite complicated. Can you explain?

“Recusa” was written by one of the most traditional poets, Mário Rainho. The poem says: “(.) if to be a singer of Fado is to lose sight of the sun (.) to be sad (.) to be on the edge of tears (.).”. This is exactly what I am not! Fado is not crying all the time. I don’t dress up all in black. I dance; I move and express my own personality. That’s why I feel different. This is my Fado. And, if being a Fado singer is to be all what I’m not, then I’m not Fado, I’m Fado when I do it my way, respecting all its codes, but always my way. This is my music. It is where I find myself and where I recognize myself. Fado has space enough for everything, for joy, for feeling melancholic, to celebrate and to be happy.

In the past, did you sing in the fado houses? Can you describe the

You live an intimae atmosphere in Fado houses. People are happy to be there. There’s a positive energy in the air, it’s a fantastic environment!
People meet there to get together, to relax, have a drink and at the same time to join in the emotion that Fado is. I go a lot to Fado houses, even if I don’t sing, I like to breed it!

Is there one fado house called Senhor Vino? And do you also have a song of that name? What was first?

“Ouça lá ó Senhor Vinho.” was written and composed by Alberto Janes. It was created for Amália Rodrigues and was recorded and released by herself in 1976. The album was named “After this Song”.
There is, in fact, a Fado House called Senhor Vinho. It’s located in one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighbourhoods: Madragoa.

Your performances are well known for the intense atmosphere. What are
your feelings after the concert, are you tired? Do you need a BIG rest?

I do give away all I can to my audience, and of course that brings some tiredness, but I love it, so, as long as I can do it, I’ll keep on doing it!

Did Jaques Morelenbaum work with a fado singer before?

As far as I know Transparente is the only Fado album produced by Jaques.

Why did you select him? What is your attitude to Brazilian music?

I’m very fond of Brazilian rhytms, such as Bossa Nova, Vinicius de Moraes, Tom Jobim, Elis Regina or Caetano Veloso, for who Jaques Morelenbaum is currently the musical producer. I already knew that Jaques had worked with Caetano Veloso and Ryuchi Sakamoto. We met in music festivals in Portugal and abroad. I’ve always loved his work. I’ve always wanted to work with him. I spoke with my record company and they liked the idea. I suggested it to Mr. Morelenbaum and he returned to my suggestion with all possible dates to start working. I’ve always thought that doing it would help me to reach the sonority I was looking for. When I listen to this album I feel my Fado, my sound. Jaques Morelenbaum uses all musical instruments in a magical way, with lots of care. He was the producer for this record; he understood me.

When did you discover him for the first time? What kind of music were you
listening before?

As I said before, I already knew Jaques work with Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso or Sakamoto. I met him in Lisbon some years ago. I listen to all kind of music, as long as it’s good. But I have to confess, I have my preferences: Maria Callas, Tony Bennett, Nina Simone, Sting.

Now your album is on the top of the charts. What is the chart music any time Mariza doesn’t have a new album? Is it this anonymous international pop? Do you have any favourite singers in Portugal?

Like everywhere we do have international pop artists in the charts, but there’s good music being done in Portugal, like Rui Veloso, Carlos do Carmo, Jorge Palma. To name a few.

What kind of book would you take with you to a desert island? And any musical instrument, or a CD?

I would certainly take various Portuguese and international poetry, which I would read listening to classical music.

Is it different when you sing for non-Portugese audiences? Do you have
to translate the lyrics?

I think that everybody has a little bit of Fado inside themselves. Because it is a music that have in the base feelings, emotions, etc. People all around the world are able to understand it, even if they speak a different language. Nevertheless, I carefully explain what I am going to sing, but the rest of it is emotion. It’s a kind of give and take.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak a little of English, Spanish, some French, and Portuguese, of course .

Do you have any personal dreams?

To be happy


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