Friday, November 12, 2010

Mononymic Artists: Mariza

Mariza: O Gente Da Minha Terra


Amalia Rodrigues was the queen of Fado music until her death in 1999. In 2001, Mariza made her debut, and arguably took over Amalia’s old title. In Portugal to this day, Rodrigues is still referred to by her first name, and everyone there knows who you mean. O Gente Da Minha Terra represents a passing of the torch; the lyric is by Amalia Rodrigues, but it was Mariza who finally wrote a tune for it. But what is Fado? Let’s let some Portugese musicians answer that question:

The man that sings Fado usually does it in a black suit. He sings his love affairs, his city, the miseries of life, criticizes society and the politicians. He often talks about the bullfighting’s, the horses, the old days and the people already dead, and talks, almost every time, of "saudade" (longing). But where did the word Fado came from? It came from the Latin fatum, which means fate, the inexorable destiny that nothing can change. That is why Fado is usually so melancholic, so sad: as it sings that part of destiny that was opposite to the wishes of its owner. The woman sings always in black, with a mournful voice, and usually with a shawl on her shoulders. She sings the love and death: the death from the loss of love, the love lost to death...

This way of singing shows, in a certain way, the spirit of the Portuguese people: they believe in destiny as something that overwhelms them and to which they can't escape, the domination of the soul and heart over reason, that leads to acts of passion and despair, and reveal such a black and beautiful sorrow.

From: "Fado: the people's soul", by César Silva, Fernando Jorge, Paulo Reis, Sandra Franco and Vítor Carvalho

So it would be a gross oversimplification to call Fado Portugese blues, but it is a folk style that covers some of the same emotional territory. I don’t speak Portugese, so I don’t know what this song is about, but the emotion comes through loud and clear.

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