“I lived in a traditional Lisbon neighbourhood and have always sung the fado – I know what it is, I understand myself through it”.
Mariza is a Mozambican whose soul was forged in the old Mouraria district of Lisbon. It was there that she first heard fado singers, lots of them - so many that their names and faces have merged into the mist of memory; but these “reminiscences live on in my singing”.
The tributes to Fernando Maurício, Carlos do Carmo and Amália Rodrigues in Transparente (her latest album) therefore come as no surprise. Despite experimenting with other rhythmic forms, Mariza has always been involved in fado.
Her first album release in 2001, Fado em mim (Fado in me), went quadruple platinum in Portugal and thrust her on to the international scene. The press had no hesitation in stating that “a star is born”.
In 2002 she performed in New York’s Central Park, the mythical Hollywood Bowl, the Womad Festival, and sold out the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon and the Purcell Room on London’s South Bank.
After conquering British audiences with her performance on Jools Holland’s legendary television show. Mariza was awarded the BBC Radio 3 Best European World Music Artist Award in March 2003. She received the award from Michael Nyman, at Hackney’s Ocean where silence was called to hear her sing. The previous night she had performed at the Union Chapel.
At the time her second album, Fado Curvo (Curved Fado) was launched – the title expressing that, fado, like fate, isn’t a straight line… “The fado is not enclosed by limits”. Mariza confirmed all expectations. German critics awarded her the Deutsche Schalplatten Kritik Award and the album reached number 6 on the Top Billboard of World Music. It was critically acclaimed in Portugal and went quadruple platinum. At this point Mariza had outsold all other contemporary fado singers by six times.
On a succession of tours in Europe and North America she sold out the Royal Festival Hall in London, Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Belém Cultural Centre in Lisbon and the Théâtre de La Ville in Paris. Foreign journalists in Portugal noted her “excellence in the spreading of Portuguese culture, in its most characteristic manifestation: the fado” and voted her Personality of the Year 2003.
In 2004, the year in which she launched her first DVD, which was recorded at the Union Chapel in London, she received the European Border Breakers Award at MIDEM and went on to participate in Unity, the official album of the Olympic Games, on which she sang the number A Thousand Years with Sting.
Mariza has performed concerts on four continents with notable success and full houses; the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra; the Carnegie Hall in New York, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Teatro Grec in Barcelona, the Albeniz Theatre in Madrid, the Royal Festival Hall in London or the Opera House in Sydney. 2005 saw Mariza on a non-stop tour through Europe and USA.
Mariza’s new album “Transparente”, in which she reveals even more than in her earlier work, was released in more than 35 countries throughout Europe, Latin America and US, and represents “the turning of a page” for her. This is not to say that Mariza’s passion for singing the words of poets has changed; she still makes them her own through the emotion of her interpretation.
The album was number 1 in Portugal, and conquered the Top 10 in Finland, Iceland and Holland. Portugal, France and Spain have since then re- released Transparente, Finland and the UK soon to follow suit.
The Kingdom of Denmark chose Mariza as one of the international ambassadors for the work and the spirit of Hans Christian Andersen. The fado, rather like the work of Hans Christian Andersen, has a certain poetic melancholy that makes its appeal universal.
Also she was invited to be a part of Live 8 in the UK, under the banner of ‘Africa Calling’, alongside artists such as Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour and Angélique Kidjo. It was an emotional day for Mariza, who was born in Mozambique, “It’s an honour to perform at such an event, especially because it’s so important to be in solidarity with Africa, where my roots are”.
In October Mariza was honoured with the International Career Prize by Amália Rodrigues Foundation, and was proud to be also nominated by the Portuguese Committee of UNICEF to become a National Ambassador.
2005 came to a close with Mariza nominated for the Best European Artist in the category of World Music Award by BBC Radio 3.
Mariza declared that she is “deeply moved and happy that Portugal is once again featured in these Awards”. She won the award for the first time in 2003.
Mariza began the year of 2006, with two memorable concerts at Sydney Opera House and has been nominated for the 2006 Helpmann Awards under the category of Best International Contemporary Concert, by Live Performance Australia (LPA).
She was been also honored with the prestigious Comenda da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique by the President of the Portuguese Republic.
In May, Mariza won the Portuguese Golden Globe Award in the category of "Best Interpreter of the Year" for her last album “Transparente”.
Mariza continues to tour all over the world, from Los Angeles, at Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, conducted by the prestigious maestro John Mauceri, to Asia where she performed for the first time in Malaysia, China and Thailand to critical acclaim.
Mariza has been experimenting with other musical connections, for instance with Flamenco, singing with Spanish star José Mercé the song Há uma música do Povo, from her new album. However you can imagine that Mariza will never stray far from fado.
In November it’s time for releases worldwide of live CD and DVD - “Mariza – Concerto em Lisboa” recorded last year for 20.000 people in Lisbon at Torre de Belém garden with the “Sinfonietta de Lisboa” orchestra, which was conducted by the Brazilian producer Jaques Morelenbaum, who also produced Transparente.
Also, in November 22nd, Mariza will perform at the mythical Royal Albert Hall in London.
As one poet wrote, fado makes its way in the world through the transparency of its lyrics, and these Mariza sings with all her heart, because it’s in the work of poets that Mariza seeks the words which she can make her own within a traditional form of music which is undergoing constant renewal: “ fado is not limited… but it must be treated with the utmost care”.