Among those artists who shed light on or modernise traditional music, the leaders are often those that have something of an outside edge. So it is with Portugal's twenty-first century fado tradition, whose undisputed princess is a Mozambique-born 28-year-old called Mariza Reis Nunes. Let's leave the queen, Amália Rodrigues, out of this.
It's true that since arriving in Portugal with her family at the age of three, Mariza has spent much of her life living in Lisbon's picturesque Mouraria district, and thus grew up in the heart of fado culture. But the way she has moulded fado into her own style is no small reflection on her background. As she succinctly puts it: 'Half of me is very, very Portuguese and the other half is very, very African.'
By subtly rearranging the roles of its main instruments (the Spanish and Portuguese guitar, and most crucially the bass) Mariza has changed her fado to satisfy a certain hunger. 'I need rhythm,' she declares. 'I was not happy with the form of fado [as it was] and I was feeling we need that swing to sing fado.'
Besides, she likes to dance, though with her penchant for exquisite floor-length designer dresses makes it almost look as if she's levitating over the stage as she does so, rocking back and forth like an otherworldly art deco statue brought to life, with her (new) trademark swimming cap of silver hair, and obsidian necklaces flying.
Even though her naturally magnetic presence, apparently effortless stage manner and voice to die for were obvious the moment she made her international debut in 2001 with Fado Em Mim, her confidence as a performer has reached new heights with each successive tour. Since last being nominated for, and winning, this category two years ago, Mariza has released Fado Curvo (2003) and has made a bold reconnection with Brazil (where some of the roots of fado undoubtedly lie) on Transparente (2005), with the help of producer Jaques Morelenbaum and some sumptuous strings. She's also recently featured on a live album by her number one (living) fado idol Carlos do Carmo and duetted in English with Sting on the 'only official Athens 2004 Olympics pop album'. Nobody's perfect. She says she's now more open in her artistic approach than ever before. So who knows what her hairdresser will come up with next?
Official Mariza site
World Connection site
Simply superb, and the voice is the most beautiful that I have ever heard, and the way she interprets her music is unique in the world.
A voice like silk and steel stunning ,and what a looker!
Ken Robertson UK
We saw her live in the Azores last year and she was every bit as magic as all of her CDs. Once you have heard this lady you are captivated for ever.
Paulo Pimentel, London, UK
I recently saw her at the RAH. She was fantastic and it's wonderful to see her development as a performer over the years. Her English is certainly improving as is her divaness!! Excellent.
Julia Howe UK
We travelled all the way to the Albert Hall in London. It was worth every single second! This woman has the voice and vocal range of an angel. The stunning breathtaking climax to the concert was to hear her sing without the aid of a microphone... the audience stood on its feet and roared with total delight.
Her concert yesterday at the Royal Albert Hall was fantastic. She is a great singer...one of the ebest voices and performers you can find.
MAriza: a little moment for me this night?
Rafael Rodrigues - Torres Vedras, Portugal
Mariza is a great singer, the best in the moment!! but please... stop comparing her to Amalia Rodrigues, Mísia, Dulce, etc.!! They're all great singers but they have a different way to deal with Fado...
Brendan Ryan Dublin Ireland
On a recent visit to Portugal I heard this wonderful voice from the heavens echo through the air, while browsing in a local shop in Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal. I bought the CD Fado em num. So beautiful a voice that there is no language barrier just " Sao emocoes que dao vida " Bravo “fado”. Mariza is a special talent god given and united with a soul to deliver traditional Fado.
Good music PA USA
Rui Gomes - Portugal
Marisa is beautiful young woman with an incredible voice and presence...Her live performances are amazing...I love all of her albums...Keep it up
Marilyn de Lijster / The Netherlands
I have never been so moved by a performer.With her warmth, integrity and complete lack of arrogance she draws her audience in and touches your soul! She is stunning.
Rita Gomes , Portugal
She made me like fado, wich I found really boring before. Her voice is just amazing, I saw her live and believe me it's just haunting!
WHAT A VOICE... I CAN'T BREATHE WHEN I LISTEN TO HER.
Joao Trindade, Portugal
She is the "voice" of the century, after all, nobody sings Fado like her. To be honest she is even better than Amália Rodrigues. Hail to Mariza. I hope that she wins.
sergio b. USA
She is fabulous! A great artist, with a hauntingly beautiful voice.
That's real music!
If you like Mariza, try to listen other portuguese singers like: Cristina Branco, Mísia or Katia Guerreiro.
Keith Mills, Dublin
I saw Mariza in concert recently and it was one of the most special musical events of my life; a truly stunning voice and such a connection with the audience. Portugal should be very proud that is has such a wonderful ambassador for its music.
Joseph Coutinho / The Netherlands
Mariza has a very soothing, sentimental, tantalizing and pleasurable voice and I've no doubt she will go far and become as or more famous than the other fado singers in Portugal. I rate her quite highly to win the 2006 Music Awards!!!
José L. Sánchez , México
Mariza in few words, one of the most exciting and poetics voices in the world.... simply irresistible