Artist Profile: João Afonso

João Afonso at EXIB 2016 in Evora - Photo by Angel Romero
João Afonso at EXIB 2016 in Evora – Photo by Angel Romero

João Afonso was born in Maputo (Mozambique) on July 8, 1965, where he picked grew up listening to African urban music as well as traditional Portuguese music through his uncle, Portuguese singer Zeca Afonso.

In 1978, João moved to Portugal. In December 1994 he participated in the Maio maduro maio project along with José Mário Branco and Amélia Muge, presented in Lisbon and other cities abroad. The Maio Maduro Maio double CD was released in 1995.

João Afonso also participated in the “Janelas Verdes” and “Acoustic” albums by world music multi-instrumentalist and composer Júlio Pereira.

In 1996 João Afonso performed several concerts in Spain with singer-songwriter Luis Pastor, in which they sang each others’ songs as well as material by Zeca Afonso. They were occasionally joined by Pedro Guerra.

Missangas was João Afonso’s first solo album, released in May 1997 in Portugal; subsequently released in France through Verve / Polygram and Spain (Resistencia, 1998). In December 1997 he participated in the Voz e guitarra (voice and guitar) album and show produced by Expo 1998 in Lisbon.


João Afonso - Missangas
João Afonso – Missangas


In 1998 João Afonso participated in the collective production Novas vos trago with two songs from the historical songbook. That same year, he composed the music for the poem Paz de Santiago recorded by Spanish Singer-songwriter Luis Pastor in his album Por el mar de mi mano. And João also recorded the song Na machamba (from his album Missangas) with Canary Islander group Mestisay.

In 1999 he was a guest vocalist in the song Aquí em baixo (Azul) that appeared in the album by Spanish singer Uxía. Also, in 1999, João released his second solo album, Barco voador, that reflected his experiences traveling throughout different continents. Universal Music released the album in Spain. Zanzibar, his third solo recording, came in 2002.



The 2006 solo album Outra vida confirmed that João Afonso is one of the finest performers and songwriters of his generation in Portugal. In November 2006 João Afonso participated as a guest in the book/CD by Luis Pastor titled Nesta esquina do tempo (In this corner of time) with Jose Saramago poems set to music.


João Afonso - Outra vida
João Afonso – Outra vida


In 2014 he released “Sangue Bom” where he composed music for poems by Mia Couto and José Eduardo Agualusa.


Maio Maduro Maio, with José Mário Branco and Amélia Muge (Sony Portugal, 1995).
Missangas (Universal Music Portugal, 1997)
Barco Voador (Universal Music Portugal, 1999)
Zanzibar (Universal Music Portugal, 2002)
A arte e a música (Universal Music Portugal, 2004), compilation
Outra vida (Universal Music Portugal, 2006)
Um redondo vocábulo (2010)
Sangue Bom (2014).

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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