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Sample Track 1:
"Feira de Castro" from Fado Curvo
Sample Track 2:
"Fado Curvo" from Fado Curvo
Sample Track 3:
"Primavera" from Fado Curvo
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Fado Curvo
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Layer 2
Mariza, Fado Curvo (Times Square Records) View Additional Info

The Magnetism and Immaculate Coiffure of Portugal’s Rising Star:
Mariza’s Fado Curvo

[coming in early Fall 2004: "Mariza: Live in London" DVD]

It's been a short trip to the top for the new face of fado. Barely a year after the release of her debut album Fado em Mim in 2001, Mariza was being fêted as a bona fide member of the illustrious world music sisterhood. A diva she may be, but unlike most of her peers, time is on her side. And so are the critics, if her recent prize for best European act in the BBC Awards for World Music and Portugal's illustrious Personality of the Year award are anything to go by. “I feel very, very happy with receiving that award,” says the immaculately coiffured starlet, “but I hope it is not too much responsibility. I just want to sing.” And as audiences around the world have noticed of late, singing is something she does very well.

When the music pours out of her, Mariza seems like a conduit for something much larger than herself (a bit like the high-fashion dresses she wears). There's an unmistakably genuine agony and ecstasy of expression when she performs, whether the venue is the Hollywood Bowl or a small casa de fado in her hometown of Lisbon. That's where she spent much of January, in a studio, recording her latest album Fado Curvo.

Fado Curvo has taken Mariza and fado one step further. In Portugal, the CD shipped “Gold” (20,000 units), which is unheard of for a fado record, and has reached #2 on Portugal’s International pop charts. The recording is on course to hit “Platinum” status back home, which her debut CD reached last year. All of this is evidence that Mariza has widespread popularity in her home country.

In the USA, the Fado Curvo debuted at #14 on the Billboard World Music Chart in its first week, and soon after went up to #6. None of this is surprising given that most of her North American concerts are packed to the rafters. Both the CD and concerts were greeted with critical acclaim, from the Chicago Tribune to Global Rhythm. An interview by NPR’s Melissa Bloch drew a huge response from the American public.

Curvo is the Portuguese word for curved or winding, but Mariza has her own explanation: “For me, curvo means that which is not straight. Life is not a straight line, like passion, like music.” For Mariza, having respect for tradition has nothing to do with the straight and narrow. And while her debut disc featured five songs immortalised by the queen of fado, the late lamented Amália Rodrigues, this time there's only one: a daringly original version of Primavera. The emphasis now is on Mariza’s unique take on fado.

“I decided to make this album more organic, with more original material for me. I started thinking it would be better to create fados my own way.” In preparing for Fado Curvo, Mariza spent many spare moments last year reading the best of Portuguese poetry, both classic and contemporary. “I found a lot of beautiful poems I would like to sing. The best I found are there on the record.”

Mariza was born in Mozambique, but moved to Portugal as a baby, giving her plenty of time to get immersed in the “Fado Houses.” Before Mariza could read, her father sketched out little cartoon stories to help her remember the lyrics. At the age of five, she would join in the spontaneous singing in her parents’ restaurant in Mouraria, one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighborhoods.

Fado is Portugal’s Blues or Rebetika or Tango or Flamenco. “They all stand on emotions,” says Mariza. “Fado is an emotional kind of music full of passion, sorrow, jealousy, grief, and often satire.” Yet Fado differs from its musical cousins in its poetic mystery and its ability to fuse dichotomous traits: impossible pain and fervent joy, life’s cruelty with love’s intensity.

At the very outset of her career, Mariza was being compared to one of the biggest icons of Fado: Amália Rodrigues. Those sentiments were first expressed by Nuno Nazareth Fernandes, one of the greatest Portuguese composers, but have since been reaffirmed by Billboard Magazine: “Her voice is a gorgeous evocative instrument, and she sings with bravura and power…the world has met its next great Portuguese ‘fadista’.”

Additional Info
The Magnetism and Immaculate Coiffure of Portugal’s Rising ...
Media Acclaim for Fado Superstar Mariza
Awards, Acknowledgments, and Milestones

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