Fado Em Mim
(World Connection, 2001)

Fado Em Mim is the first release by Portuguese fado singer Mariza. This beautiful CD showcases a sound that represents Portugal just as flamenco represents Spain, the blues represent the U.S. and the tango represents Argentina.

Fado translates to "destiny/fortune/fate." Like the aforementioned musical styles, the fado is a musical expression of feelings. To quote Mariza from the promotional material, "Fado is an emotional kind of music full of passion, sorrow, jealousy, grief, and often satire." She goes on to say that one doesn't "learn" how to sing this style of music, one has to "feel" it.

Perhaps the best way to explain fado is to describe how it is usually performed. Three acoustic instruments back up the singer and the players traditionally form a half circle around her. The primary instrument is the Portuguese guitar, which has a unique shape and contains 12 strings. It is said this guitar descends either from the Arabic sitar or the English lute. The other two instruments are the classical guitar and the acoustic bass guitar. Together, these four components of fado have the ability to truly touch your heart through their combined sound.

Fado Em Mim contains thirteen tracks. Six are traditional, six are original compositions and there is also a hidden track. My personal favorite is "Oxala (God Willing)." Mariza's vocals are simply stunning. I find myself repeating this track more often than not. This untitled hidden track is also great. Mariza is accompanied by a piano, which adds another dimension to the style.

Mariza is joined on this CD by several musicians including Custodio Castelo (Portuguese guitar), Jorge Fernando and Antonio Neto (classical guitar, viola), Marino Freitas (acoustic bass), Ricardo Cruz (acoustic and double bass), Tiago Machado (piano), Dalu and Joaquim Teles (percussion) and Davide Zaccaria (cello).

On a more personal note about Mariza, I found it interesting that she was actually born in Mozambique. She moved to Portugal when she was 3 years old and started singing fado as a child in her parent's restaurant. Although she enjoys researching her roots -- which include Portuguese, Spanish, German, African and Indian blood -- she completely identifies with the Portuguese culture because that is where she grew up.

Mariza claims that as part of the Portuguese culture, fado can only be sung by Portuguese in their own language. That may be, but you don't have to be Portuguese to feel the outpouring of emotion. The quality of this music can be felt whether or not you understand the words Mariza sings. Fado Em Mim is a must-have CD for world music lovers.

[ by Wil Owen ]
Rambles: 20 July 2002

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