This week Muse interviewed Mariza who performed last night at the Mondavi Center. Mariza is a prominent figure in Portugal, and sings in the traditional Fado style.
Can you explain Fado and its importance to the Portuguese tradition?
Fado is one of the most important elements of the Cultural Heritage of Portugal. It was born from a blend of Portuguese Brazilian and African roots. In a sort of a way it does express the Portuguese soul as it is an expression of this cultural mix. Portugal as always been a port, or a meeting point for the western civilization.
You grew up singing a variety of musical styles (some including jazz, soul and gospel). Why did you choose to pursue a professional career singing Fado in particular?
I started singing Fado as a little child. It was part of the neighborhood I grew up in. Although, it wasn´t the most popular genre when I was growing up to be an adult. Professionally I started singing other musical styles as you mentioned.
On the other hand, I always kept singing Fado privately. When I was about to record my first album, going back to my roots, Fado was the most natural thing to do. And I am glad that I did.
A large part of Fado is preserving the feeling of nostalgia and
missing someone or something. Are there any specific memories or
experiences that inspired songs which reminded you of Lisbon
where you grew up?
When you visit Lisboa you may experience a bit of that nostalgia. I cannot give you a particular memory, but of course my childhood was very much influenced by my father´s Fado House, were we had Fado singing every night – mostly street Fado (Fado Vadio).
In 2005, you won Amalia’s Rodrigues Foundations’ international award for “making Portuguese music known worldwide”. How do you feel about being the one to represent Portugal and expose this genre of music to the world?
I feel very privileged to be able to sing my own language and present all over the world such an important element of our own culture. Such recognition is an honor.
When touring internationally, are there cultural differences that have influenced you musically?
Traveling all over the world had of course influenced me. It’s been eight years of a lot of sharing and experimenting. Terra, my last album is the result of those experiences of course.
How do you prepare yourself to perform in front of an audience who may or may not have ever been exposed to Fado?
In every and each concert, my musicians [and I] like to give our best – Fado is such a emotional way of expressing human feelings that it is able to tear down language obstacles. And that does help in being understood in other countries and cultures rather that just in Portugal. I can only feel blessed that people are enjoying it as much as I am.
UYEN CAO can be reached at email@example.com.