Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Las Maravillas de Mali

Las Maravillas de Mali

Formed in the early 1960s, Las Maravillas de Mali became an iconic ensemble of the Afro-Cuban musical tradition, singing in Spanish, Bambara and French.

In the middle of the Cold War, the early 1960s was a period of Communist camaraderie between the Africa of independence and the revolutionary Cuba of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. In 1964, the Cuban government invited ten young musicians from Mali to study in Havana. These young artists spent seven years studying music in Cuba, marking the establishment of Las Maravillas de Mali.

The group recorded one self-titled album in 1968 that included the song that became one of the greatest hits in this revolutionary era: “Rendez-Vous Chez Fatimata,” combining Cuban influences with traditional Malian music.

Las Maravillas de Mali’s story came to the attention of French producer Richard Minier in 1999 and he worked to recreate the ensemble. Together with the band’s remaining survivor and original member, Boncana Maïga, Minier retraced the group’s steps and went to Havana on several occasions, re-recording new versions of the album’s songs in the same surroundings as before, in the now famed Egrem studios.

In 2018, the orchestra was revived again in an effort led by Malian musician and founder Boncana Maïga, Cuban pianist Manolito, Beninese vocalist Jospinto and Guinean vocalist Mory Kanté.

Discography:

Maravillas De Mali (Disco Stock, 1968)
Maravillas De Mali (Maestro Sound, 1999)

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Artist Profiles: ALMMA

ALMMA stood for A Free Association of Madeiran Musicians. In 1996, eleven Madeiran musicians coming from diverse musical backgrounds gathered together in a small village, Jardim do Mar, west of Funchal (Madeira’s capital) to record an experimental album that would create a new atmosphere for Madeiran traditional music.

The purpose of these musicians was to show the various developments in Madeiran traditional music during the last centuries. Madeira was an island colonized by Portuguese settlers in the XV century, but because of its geographical position in the Atlantic ocean it was a cosmopolitan port for all travelers, from Arabic pirates to African slaves, English businessmen, Italians, Dutch, Spaniards and Celtic peoples.

So, Madeiran traditional music, although dominated by northern Portuguese traditions, had other important influences. Of particular importance were Arabic chants and instruments, as well as the richness of African drums and oral stories.

Unfortunately, for many centuries historians and governments tried to hide those influences and, in the name of Portuguese unity, only taught the politically correct musical traditions. ALMMA was the opposite. In a contemporary way, it showed the richness of Madeiran music. The band blended African drums with Arabic flutes and chorus, all mixed with Portuguese fados and Celtic danceable tunes. It seems a very strange melting pot, but in the end it truly presents the variety of Madeiran culture, not only in music, but also in other ways, such as poetry, myths and costumes.

Musicians:

Nuno morna – vocals, percussion, samplers, duduk, shanai, hurdy-gurdy

Manuel rodriguez – acoustic and electric guitars, viola de arame, rajao, percussion, vocals

Tozé cardoso – keyboards, viola de arame, guitar, vocals, percussion

Marília Andrade – vocals, percussion

CarlosCruz – braguinha, mandolin, quatro, percussion

Mário Freitas – bass, sitar, percussion

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Artist Profiles: Madredeus

Madredeus in 2000

Creating a distinctly modern Portuguese sound, Madredeus became one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful Portuguese bands in Europe. This Lisbon-based sextet’s music is steeped in Portuguese culture, informed by a wide range of musical influences and prized by audiences throughout Europe, Brazil, and Japan.

In 1985 Pedro Ayres Magalhaes, bassist of Herois do Mar and Rodrigo Leao, bassist of Sétima Legiao, began to mature the idea of making another type of music due to the fatigue caused by their involvement in the Portuguese pop scene.

During a break in the activities of their respective groups, Pedro and Rodrigo joined to rehearse some guitar repertoires. Pedro also presented some lyrics although they lacked a voice. They were joined by accordionist, Gabriel Gomes.

Soon, a cellist who was studying at the Lisbon Conservatory began to collaborate with them. However, they continued to lack a voice, because despite doing continuous auditions, they did not find one that fully satisfied them. One night, Rodrigo and Gabriel visited the Barrio Alto and discovered a young girl who sang a fado at a table with some friends. They immediately established contact. Everyone agreed that it was the voice they were looking for. So they started rehearsing together.

The rigors of winter forced them to look for a more welcoming place and that is how they ended up rehearsing in the convent of Madre de Deus, in Xabregas, east of Lisbon.
During 1987, Madredeus’s essays gradually transformed into a gathering of friends and musicians in which opinions and ideas were shared. The group remained nameless so those who frequented the rehearsals began to call them “Madredeus”.

Meanwhile, Pedro Ayres began to tempt the label with which he released the records of his previous group, with some recordings by the new group. At the same time, Rodrigo Leao began to experience a new sound, that of the synthesizer. His first work was recorded in the same rehearsal place. To make little noise the musicians played barefoot and had to stop the recording every time a heavy vehicle passed by, due to the noise. On November 30, the album was presented.

From there on, instrumental arrangements inspired by tradition, that sought to revive the interest and taste for the Portuguese language began to have more and more followers.

The first week of December of that year “Os Dias da Madredeus” was released. The album immediately became an assiduous presence on radios and newspapers and began to be an obligatory reference of Portuguese music.

In 1988, the group began to be constantly requested for more concerts in Portugal. That year was very important in consolidating the group in its own country. The following year, they had exceeded all initial expectations.

Two years later, Madredeus recorded the album Existir. For the first time in a studio. At that time they met Antonio Pinheiro da Silva who would continue with them as a producer on their first albums.

In 1991 they gave their first concert in Spain, where they would reap great successes. That same year, they recorded their first live work, Lisbon. EMI reissued the second work album.
In 1992 and in 1993 they had already traveled throughout European countries, America and Japan.

In 1994, after a short break after the frenzied activity of the previous year, the band started a relationship with Wim Wenders who was preparing a film about Lisbon, and wanted to use some Madredeus songs in the soundtrack. They flew to England to record some songs, and decided, to the delight of Wim Wenders, to create some of them expressly for the film. They came back with two albums instead of one. So the first of them was published in the spring under the title Espírito da Paz.

After several concerts, performing in places of great prestige, Rodrigo Leao left the group to dedicate himself to his solo career and was immediately replaced by Carlos María Trindade. He accompanied Madredeus on a long tour of Spain. Then they traveled around the world carrying their music. At the end they presented the songs of the soundtrack of the film in an album, the second that year, titled Ainda.

1996 was a year in which concerts and breaks and conversations were interspersed. A year later, Gabriel Gomes and Francisco Riveiro left the group. Bassist Fernando Judice replaced them. It was a new group that marked a new stage in the career of Madredeus.

In 1998 they recorded live O Paraiso, a trip throughout its musical career. During these two years they resumed their tours and continued to be successful all over the world.

Then came “Antologia“, a disc composed of travel notes brought from around the world. Images of moments, snapshots of emotions, some of Madredeus’ songs, built on dreams and landscapes, hopes and longings.

In November 2007, longtime vocalist Teresa Salgueiro left Madredeus.

Madredeus in 2012

In April 2012 Madredeus released Essencia and announced too its new lineup, featuring Beatriz Nunes (vocals), Pedro Ayres de Magalhães (guitar), Carlos Maria Trinidade (synthesizer), Jorge Varrecoso (violin), Antonio Figueirido (violin) and Luis Clode (cello).

Discography:

Os Dias Da Madredeus (EMI, 1987)
Existir (EMI, 1990)
Lisboa (EMI, 1992)
O Espírito Da Paz (EMI, 1994)
Ainda (EMI, 1995)
O Paraíso (EMI, 1997)
O Porto (EMI, 1998)
Movimento (EMI, 2001)
Euforia (Capitol Records, 2002)
Electronico (Capitol Records, 2002)
Um Amor Infinito (EMI, 2004)
Faluas Do Tejo (EMI Music Portugal, 2005)
Essência (Éter, 2012)
Capricho Sentimental (Éter, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Mónica Giraldo

Mónica Giraldo – Photo by Carolina Iregui

Guitarist and singer-songwriter Mónica Giraldo was born in Bogotá, Colombia. She studied music at Universidad de los Andes in her hometown and later studied further at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.

Since her return to Colombia, she recorded several albums: Muy Cerca (Very Close) in 2005 with Producer Felipe Álvarez (Polen Records); Todo da Vueltas (Everything Turns) in 2008 with Producer Mauricio Pantoja and independent label Codiscos, which earned her a nomination for Best New Artist at the 2008 Latin Grammys.

She also released Que venga la vida (Let life come) with Polen Records in 2014, and Bajo el mismo cielo (Under The Same Sky) in 2017, co-produced by Giraldo, Mauricio Pantoja and Andrés Peláez.
Mónica Giraldo has collaborated with various artists in various albums, such as Mestizajes with the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra in 2010, La Voz de mi Padre (My Father’s Voice) in 2011, and in Café Latino and Café del Mundo by Putumayo Records in 2013-2014. Her performing career includes venues in Colombia, Mexico, USA, France, and Japan among others.

Mónica Giraldo is a woman strolling two paths. The first one is taking her deeper and deeper into the soul of Colombian music, surrounded by the energy of her native land’s traditional rhythms such as cumbia and bullerengue. The other one leads her out and away, enjoying melodies and harmonies from the world.

Discography:

Muy Cerca (Polen Records, 2005)
Todo da Vueltas (Codiscos, 2008)
Que venga la vida (Polen Records, 2014)
Bajo el mismo cielo (2017)
Al Oido -The best of Mónica Giraldo (GLP Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Mafalda Arnauth

Mafalda Arnauth

Mafalda Arnauth, born in Lisbon in October of 1974, was one of the great new sensations in fado in the late 1990s. She started her career in 1995 when invited by Joao Braga (an important fado singer) to participate in a concert at S. Luis’s Theater. What initially seemed to be a single experience, turned out to be a way of life.

Today her value is recognized, not only in Portugal but also in many foreign countries, where her presence is regularly requested.

Mafalda Arnauth, her first album released in 1999, was immediately acclaimed by specialists and won the Prize for Best Upcoming Voice by the weekly magazine Blitz, a sign that new generations are back into fado.

After a year filled with concerts and important invitations, that took her to the most important concert halls in The Netherlands, the Louisiana Centre (Denmark) and to Italy, to perform in the festival Sete-Sois, Sete-Luas, an important Mediterranean folk music event, she sang at Centro Cultural de Belem, where she was warmly acclaimed by the press.

Mafalda Arnauth

Mafalda’s second album, Esta voz que me atravessa (This voice that goes through me) was released in 2001 and was produced by Amelia Muge and Jose Martins. Her album Encantamento was self-produced. She feels it “leaves fatality, disgrace, and nostalgia behind. Hope is fed on sadness; inspiration on suffering; strength and courage on difficulties.”

Discography:
Mafalda Arnauth (EMI, 1999)
Esta Voz Que Me Atravessa (EMI, 2001)
Encantamento (EMI, 2003)
Diário (Universal Music Portugal, 2005)
Flor De Fado (Universal Music Portugal, 2008)
Rua Da Saudade – Canções De Ary Dos Santos (Farol, 2009)
Fadas (Universal Music Portugal, 2010)
Terra Da Luz (Warner Bros. Music Ltd. 2013)
Pessoa (Coast to Coast, 2013)
Mafalda Arnauth & Atlantihda (Sony Music, 2015)

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Artist Profiles: Misia

Misia

Mísia was born in the city of Oporto, where she lived until the end of her adolescence. The daughter of a family with great socio-cultural differences, and the third generation of artists on her mother’s side, she inherited from her mother and grandmother a fascination for the world of the performance stage.

Family reasons led her to interrupt her studies and to travel to Barcelona, where she became acquainted with new artistic tendencies. At the same time, distance and “saudade” (longing) began to come together in a new look at her own cultural roots. Thus there reappeared, and stayed, the memory of Fado (of her first experiences in the fado houses of Oporto), which became an inspiring force and, later a chosen vocation. Far from Portugal, a journey “inside” began, in muted fashion.

Meanwhile, Mísia worked as a “professional artist”. She took part in various television programs, sang in various styles, in various languages, in various locales of the “movida madrileña” cultural movement (the great cultural explosion that took place in Madrid). She tried a little of everything, still viewing her profession as an exciting way of life. Of these years, rich in anonymous artistic experiences, bohemian living and financial difficulties, Mísia retained memories and a useful stage skill. Without forgetting her special affection for boarding houses and trains?

In 1990, the journey “inside” had as its final destination Fado and the return to Portugal, where she still lives. Having decided to take seriously this urban music, temporarily in cultural and commercial disgrace following the Revolution of the Carnations (1974), Mísia began to work in Lisbon with musicians, composers, lyricists and poets. Thus began a long and solitary personal path, at a time when, between the enormous success of Amalia Rodrigues and the increasing success of world music (which aroused the commercial interest of recording companies and the curiosity of the media and public for this musical genre) there was a long wait.

The self titled Mísia, her first CD, was produced by EMI-Valentim de Carvalho in 1991. In 1993 it was followed by Mísia Fado, initially privately produced and subsequently taken on by BMG-Portugal, after proposals from Japan, Korea and Spain, countries in which Mísia worked regularly in that year.

Tanto Memnos Tanto Mais was released in 1995, also by BMG, and was considered one of the best CDs of the year by a number of European newspapers (Expresso, Liberation, Le Monde etc), and it heralded the consolidation of her international career, winning the French award Grand Prix du Disque de l’Acad?mie Charles Cros. In spite of this, it was a difficult period of being a recording “orphan”, a fact reflected above all in the inadequate distribution of her CDs.

In 1996, Mísia performed for the first time in Paris (Maison des Cultures du Monde) and was contacted by Erato Disques, the French classical music label, part of the Warner Classic Music group.

Erato released Garras dos Sentidos in 1998. Distributed in 62 countries, it sold some 200,000 copies, earning a Silver Disc in Portugal. It was voted a “Choc de la Musique” in France, and in Portugal was in the list of the One Hundred Best Discs of the 20th Century in the newspaper Publico.

Paixaes Diagonais followed in 1999, in which Mísia sings a fado accompanied at the piano by Maria Joao Pires in a unique meeting of sensibilities. She received excellent articles and reviews of this project, notably, for the first time in Portuguese music, a “spotlight” in the highly regarded American journal Billboard. Three fados from this CD were used as part of the soundtrack for the film “Passionata” (Dan Ireland, USA), one of them being choreographed by Bill T. Jones.

Mísia took for her fados words by some of the greatest poets in Portuguese literature, such as Fernando Pessoa, Ant?nio Botto, Nat?lia Correia and M?rio de S?-Carneiro, and also the Brazilian Carlos Drummond de Andrade. The contemporary poets Lidia Jorge, Agustina Bessa Luis, Mario Claudio and the Nobel laureate Jose Saramago wrote especially for her voice. The word, poetry – used as a link between the present and an older way of singing – has been the principal element in Mísia’s work over the last ten years. Work which has acquired its own sound, with the introduction of the violin and the accordion, instruments which play fado in the streets. Ricardo Dias, producer of both “Garras” and “Paixaes,” provided the arrangements.

Meanwhile, there were concerts in the world’s most famous halls, such as Town Hall (New York), the Philharmonia in Berlin, the Olympia (Paris), Palacio de Los Congresos (Madrid), Cocoon Theater (Tokyo), Piccolo Teatro (Milan) etc, etc. The “concert” and the reaction of the audience are her principal source of energy. Her fados and her person have inspired work by artists from different areas and cultures, including American choreographer Bill T. Jones, Indian ballet dancer Padma Subramanian, French director Patrice Leconte, and Spanish stylist.

With Ritual Mísia returned to the musical tradition of Fado (Portuguese guitar, fado guitar and acoustic bass). The lyrics were mostly written by songwriters and recorded in whole takes, using a valve microphone, as was done fifty years ago. The musical direction and two unpublished songs were provided by Carlos Goncalves, the great composer and accompanist of Am?lia Rodrigues’ last years. About Ritual Mísia said: “”it is a CD which shows the course I have taken. Doing, undoing and redoing, knowing that there exists no pure art and that each artist must have his own universe. My hell and my paradise, my life and my death are contained in this disc. My Fado

In 2003 she released Canto, which includes the best works of Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes with poems by Vasco Gra?a Moura, S?rgio Godinho and Pedro Tamen.

Her 2005 release, Drama Box, is a collection of tangos, boleros and fados, sung in Portuguese and Spanish.

Discography:

Mísia (EMI, 1991)
Fado (BMG Ariola, 1993)
Tanto Menos Tanto Mais (BMG, 1995)
Garras Dos Sentidos (Detour, 1998)
Paixões Diagonais (Erato, 1999)
Ritual (Erato, 2001)
Canto (Warner Jazz France, 2003)
Drama Box (Naïve, 2005)
Ruas (AZ, 2009)
Senhora Da Noite (Silène, 2011)
Delikatessen Café Concerto (Parlophone Music Portugal, 2013)
Para Amalia (Warner Music, 2015)
Do Primeiro Fado Ao Ultimo Tango (Warner Music, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Moçoilas

Moçoilas

In Portuguese countryside, “Moçoila” is a common word to designate a young and attractive girl. And these can surely catch their audiences: powerful singing and traditional percussion playing, old and new songs from the land and the sea performed with unique joy and freshness.

Having the recovery of traditional Algarve music as a starting point, this vocal ensemble has a unique manner of interpreting old songs from the mountain “Serra do Caldeirão” For its most part their repertoire is composed by traditional folk songs from Algarve, rich in slang, the Algarvian cursing, and playful naggery spicing the plain love stories and social critique. This is a unique and yet to-be-discovered secret in Portuguese folk music.

Musicians:

Teresa Colaco – vocals, percussion

Teresa Muge – vocals, percussion

Margarida Guerreiro – vocals, percussion

Eduarda Alves – vocals, percussion

Discography:

Já Cá Vai Roubado (Casa da Cultura de Loulé, 2001)
Tunamente Falando (Câmara Municipal Da Covilhã, 2002)
Qu’É Que Tens A Ver Com Isso? (Ocarina, 2006)

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Artist Profiles: Modas à Margem do Tempo

Modas a Margem do Tempo

The group’s purpose is to combine traditional Cante Alentejano (folk music from the Alentejo region of Portugal) with elements from other musical traditions, such as classical music.

Five musicians, of different generations, and with diversified musical formations, from the band. Five voices, one cellist, two acoustics guitarists, an accordionist and a percussionist bring an intimate style to Traditional Cante songs.

Musicians:

Celina Piedade – vocals, accordion

José Melo – vocals, guitar

Cláudio Trindade – vocals, percussion

Susana Santos – vocals, cello

Tolentino Cabo – vocals, guitar

Discography:

Cantarolices (2003)

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Artist Profiles: Pedro Jóia

Pedro Jóia

At the age of seven Pedro Jóia began his classical guitar studies with professor Paulo Valente Pereira at the cademia dos Amadores de Música de Lisboa,“ concluding the guitar course at the Conservatório Nacional de Lisboa with professor Manuel Morais in 1990.

In 1986 he began his Flamenco guitar studies initially on his own, and later attending master classes and improvement courses in Cordoba and Jerez de la Frontera (Spain) with guitarists Paco Peña and Gerardo Núñez.

He attended, between 1989 and 1992, the Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa.

Between 1990 and 1992 he taught the discipline of classical guitar at the “ Conservatório Regional de Loures.

From 1992 to 1998, he studied and worked with Manolo Sanlúcar in Córdoba and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Spain).

In 1993, he began his concertmaster activity by performing at municipal auditoriums and music and guitar festivals.

He has worked for the theater, composing and arranging original music, such as, Lorca, Federico at the Teatro Experimental de Cascais with stage director Carlos Avilez.

Nowadays he teaches classical guitar for the higher degree in Music at the Universidade de Évora.

He has performed in various countries including Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Holland, India, Mozambique and Ivory Coast.

On the first of June 2001, he presented the show “ Variações Sobre Carlos Paredes “ at the great auditorium of the “ Centro Cultural de Belém.“

2002 confirmed the success of the previous year with several shows staged both in Portugal and abroad.

He was invited to perform in Macau with the Chinese Orchestra to play a mix of Portuguese and Chinese composition including Verdes Anos of Carlos Paredes.

Early, Carlos Paredes’ music woke in me a strong “Portuguese” conscience.

With his legacy of a guitar family tradition originating from Coimbra, Paredes created an unmistakable, nostalgic sound, that punctuated the history of the last decades of 20th century Portugal.”

Discography:

Guadiano (Farol Música, 1996)
Jacarandá (Zona Música 2000)
Variações Sobre Carlos Paredes (Farol, 2001)
À Espera De Armandinho (HM Música, 2007)
Vendaval (2017)

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Artist Profiles: Realejo

Realejo

Created in 1990, Realejo appeared as a natural consequence of an all effort of investigation and recovery of specific traditional Portuguese musical instruments made by Fernando Meireles.

Among these, the hurdy-gurdy stands out once the group’s repertoire is actually directed towards this instrument. In fact Realejo have been playing all the music that is written for the hurdy-gurdy, from the Middle Age passing through the 18th century’s romantics, the French composers and the folk heritage.

Realejo are dedicated to the interpretation from the European traditions with special emphasis on music for the hurdy-gurdy, an instrument which, during the 19th century, disappeared from the Portuguese musical universe and which Fernando Meireles, with pioneering handiwork, recovered, building it from figures of 17th and 18th century Nativity scenes.

In 1995 Realejo recorded its first CD, Sanfonia, released by Movieplay. In 1997 a second CD was recorded, Cenários, released by the same company.

The hurdy-gurdy, which had completely disappeared in Portugal during the 19th century, was studied by Fernando Meireles for 4 or 5 years. This study was mainly based on nativity scenes from the 17th and 18th centuries. In 1990 he built his first hurdy-gurdy. Before this he had a similar research work for the beiroas and the toeiras guitars, instruments of rare beauty which only examples lay in the memory of times and in some Portuguese museums.

The music performed by Realejo suggests a journey of Interceltic characteristics with its Breton and Gaelic echos side by side with the repertoire taken from the traditional heritage of the north of Portugal. Therefore it is also revealing and determinant the fact that the group aims, in a diversity of expressions, at the cultural roots which identify in a careful and rigorous process, the authenticity of the traditional music.

Fernando Meireles – Hurdy Gurdy, Mandolin and Ukelele
Amadeu Magalhães – Bagpipe, Flutes, Braguesa Guitar, Melodion, Mandolin and Ukelele.
Fernando Araujo – Acoustic Bass
Jorge Queijo- Percussion
Miguel Veras – Guitars
Catarina – Voice

Discography:

Sanfonia (Movieplay, 1995)
Cenários (Movieplay, 1997)

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