Fado revival

Mariza, October 27, 2013

The Vancouver Sun

by Shawn Conner

Mariza, encouraged by her father, began singing fado at the age of five. The vocalist of African and Portuguese heritage has gone on to sell over one million albums internationally and is recognized as one of the preeminent ambassadors of the traditional Portuguese ballad style, which dates back to the 19th century. After taking a break from the world’s stages to have a family, the 39-year-old, born Mariza dos Reis Nunes, is back on the road, spreading the fado gospel. We reached the fadista at a hotel in Virginia, about to start a tour that brings her to the Chan Centre on Oct. 27.

Q: You haven’t released a new album since 2010’s Fado Tradicional. Will you be performing new songs?

A: This is a concert based on all my studio albums. I’m going to sing the songs from the last 12 years that people like the most. I decided to make a more intimate concert, where I explain more about what fado is, and I speak more about Lisboa, my roots. I share my memories of my childhood where I used to listen to people sing fado in my parents’ taverna. I’m going to do a new record, and I want to understand what people expect from me now.

Q: You’ve covered Smile by Nat King Cole during some recent shows.

A: It depends on the hall and the audience. We’re going to sing what we feel. Even the set list, even the concert can change, even when I’m on stage. It’s very organic. We are very very enthusiastic to start this tour. We want to try what we have in our minds.

Q: And your band is OK with this?

A: Of course!

Q: Is fado as popular as it’s ever been in Portugal?

A: In Portugal, it’s really popular now. There is a revival of trying to take care and protect this culture. It’s very welcome. The younger generations are also trying to understand and preserve this kind of music. In the last 12 years we have constructed a fado museum (Museo do Fado, in Lisbon) where people can study and learn how to construct a Portuguese guitar. It’s a very specific kind of guitar. I was ambassador for a dossier that we presented to UNESCO to make fado a part of its Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, and we did it. So now fado belongs not only to Portugal but to the world.

Q: It seems like there are more female singers of fado than male, or at least, the female singers are better known.

A: What I think happens is, society has been more open to see a woman crying and putting out her emotions than a man. Normally you don’t like to see a man crying about his feelings and his lost loves. So women have more appeal when they do that. But in Lisboa we have a lot of fantastic male voices. Very good male voices. But this is my opinion. I don’t know if it’s correct or not.

Q: You sometimes dabble in African or Cuban rhythms in your music. Do you ever get in trouble with the fado purists for doing different styles of fado?

A: Never! I’m always very near fado, all the time. Even if I bring a little part of my African heritage, fado is always very present in my type of music. And I’ve never had any problems with purists or traditionalists. It could happen. I think I’m a little bit spoiled.

Q: Maybe on the next album you can make some trouble.

A: Why not!

Thu Oct 24, 2013