Lula Pena was born May 15, 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal. Her inventive form of fado and other styles of music has developed a devoted following worldwide. Raised in Lisbon, Pena takes fado to every Mediterranean port, and also across the Atlantic to Brazil and Central America.
Her first album, Phados, released in 1998, won her immediate acclaim through her deep, commanding yet sensitive voice, her natural blend of fado roots with the colors of Portuguese folk music, French chanson, Cape Verdean morna, Brazilian bossa nova, and the scaled down delivery of voice and guitar.
She re-appeared on the scene some twelve years later with the release of her second album, Troubadour, a collection of stories of passion and pain, mirroring her personal journey as an existentialist musician and a serendipitous poet.
Throughout the past few years she has performed in Cape Verde, Brazil, Chile, the United States, and around Europe, occasionally appearing in duo with Guinea-Bissau multi-instrumentalist, MuMbana, or the New Zealand saxophonist, Hayden Chisholm, but usually, on her own.
She performed at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) Official Showcase Selection in October 2014.
In 2017, she released her third album, Archivo Pittoresco.
Schimmel Center will present celebrated fado artist Lula Pena on Saturday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the New York Fado Festival.
Singer, songwriter and guitar player Lula Pena is set to deeply emotional songs that cross borders from neighboring Andalucia to Greece and Sardinia to the Americas. Pena’s concerts combine her fado roots with colors of Portuguese folk music, French chanson, Cape Verdean morna, and Brazilian bossa nova.
Tickets are available at www.schimmelcenter.org, by calling 212-346-1715 or by visiting the box office located at 3 Spruce Street.
Praça do Comércio is a beautifully-packaged album + book by Portuguese multi-instrumentalist Júlio Pereira. He’s one of the leading performers of the cavaquinho, the small Portuguese guitar which is also the ancestor of the Hawaiian ukulele.
This time, Júlio Pereira has added the braguinha to the collection of instruments he performs on Praça do Comércio. The braguinha is another small guitar, from the island of Madeira, closely related to the cavaquinho.
The 111-page book is a wealth of knowledge, with notes in Portuguese and English. It provides details and photos of the cavaquinho and braguinha, illustrations, as well as music notation.
In addition to his skill as a musician, Júlio Pereira is a talented composer. His music incorporates traditional Portuguese music as well as sounds from northern Africa, jazz and classical elements, Brazilian and Mozambican rhythms, flamenco and other influences.
The lineup on Praça do Comércio includes Júlio Pereira on cavaquinho, braguinha, bouzouki, synthesizer, viola braguesa, guitar, backing vocals; Miguel Veras on guitar; Sandra Martins on cello; Luciano Vasconvelos on bass; Quiné on percussion; Diego Duque on trumpet; James Hill (ukulele); José Manuel Neto on Portuguese guitar; Pedro Jóia on guitar; Norberto Gonçalves da Cruz on bandolim.
Guest vocalists: António Zambujo (Portugal), Olga Cerpa (Canary Islands, Spain), Chney Wa Gune (Mozambique), Luanda Cozetti (Brazil), Teresa Melo Campos (Portugal), Mariana Abrunheiro (Portugal), Inés Melo Campos (Portugal), and Andreaia Joao Lopes.
Praça do Comércio is an exquisitely-crafted album that highlights the beauty of the small guitars from the eastern Atlantic.
Quantas Tribos is an album by superb Portuguese singer and composer Marta Dias. It’s a beautiful album of Afro-rooted and Portuguese music that highlights Marta’s voice as well as duets and great interplay with male vocalist Costa Neto.
Marta Dias has family roots in Sao Tome (West Africa). The lyrics are poems by five leading poets from Sao Tome and Principe: Alda Espirito Santo, Conceição Lima, Fernando de Macedo, Francisco José Tenreiro and Maria Manuela Margarido.
Most of the music was composed by guitarist Osvaldo Santos and features a tasty mix of masterful guitar, percussion, nostalgic accordion and exquisite fretless electric bass.
Jazz vocal wizard Carmen Souza appears as guest on one song.
The lineup on Quantas Tribos includes Marta Dias on vocals; Osvaldo Santos on classical guitar; Yuri Daniel on bass; Ruca Rebordãao on percussion; João Frade on accordion; and Costa Neto on vocals. Guests: Carmen Souza and Kalaf on vocals.
Marta Dias’ earlier albums include YUÉ (União Lisboa, 1997), Aqui (Farol Música, 1999) and Ao Vivo no CCB (Movieplay, 2003).
Yolanda Soares – Royal Fado (Compaes Records, 2016)
Eclectic classically-trained Portuguese vocalist Yolanda Soares draws her inspiration from fado, although she doesn’t describe herself as a fado singer. On Royal Fado she showcases her gifted voice accompanied by Portuguese guitar and Welsh harp. In addition, Yolanda Soares incorporates flamenco, tango and Middle Eastern influences. This unconventional, innovative fusion works out very well.
The Welsh connection comes from the album’s producer Chris Marshall who brought in acclaimed harp player Claire Jones; baritone singer Rhydian Roberts; Portuguese guitar maestro Custódio Castelo and traditional choral group A Moda Mae from Alentejo.
On Royal Fado, Yolanda Soares brings passion and a new imagination of fado.
Danças Ocultas is a Portuguese diatonic accordion quartet that has developed an innovative sound that crosses musical boundaries. Amplitude was recorded live during the ensemble’s concerts at the Casa da Música in Oporto and at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon.
On Amplitude, Danças Ocultas collaborates with a classical music orchestra, the Filarmonia das Beiras; fado vocalist Carminho; contemporary folk music band Dead Combo; and former Madredeus and Sétima Legião musician Rodrigo Leao.
Most of the material on Amplitude is original material by Danças Ocultas along with a composition by Rodrigo Leao and a recreation of a traditional Portuguese folk song.
The result is a beautiful set of instrumentals and songs where Portuguese folk music influences are interweaved with classical and jazz elements.
Danças Ocultas features accordionists Artur Fernandes, Filipe Ricardo, Filipe Cal and Francisco Miguel. The four musicians got together in 1989 with the goal of exploring all the sound possibilities the diatonic accordion, known in Portugal as concertina.
Amplitude features memorable accordion performances and interplay by Danças Ocultas and their guests.
Diabo A Sete – Figura de Gente (Sons Vadios, 2016)
Figura de Gente is the third album by an excellent Portuguese contemporary folk music band from Coimbra called Diabo A Sete.
The group plays original music inspired by Portuguese folk music. They use a wide-range of traditional instruments ranging from flutes to bagpipes and cavaquinho, featuring modern arrangements and a powerful folk-rock rhythm section including electric bass and drums.
Diabo A Sete was formed in 2003. The current lineup includes Celso Bento on ﬂutes, bagpipes, and background vocals; Eduardo Murta on bass; Luísa Correia on acoustic guitar and background vocals; Miguel Cardina on drums; and Pedro Damasceno on cavaquinho, mandolin, machinho, and background vocals. The band also features a new member, Sara Vidal on lead vocals, Celtic harp, Galician tambourine and adufe. She is currently the lead singer for the group A Presença das Formigas and is the former vocalist of acclaimed Spanish band Luar na Lubre, one of the leading Galician folk music bands.
Figura de Gente also features special guest Julieta Silva on sanfona (hurdy-gurdy), piano and background vocals.
Figura de Gente is a beautifully-crafted album by Diabo A Sete, one of the finest contemporary folk music bands in Portugal.
The 4th edition of the Iberoamerican showcase EXIB Música 2017 will take place in Portugal once more. The 2017 event will be based in Évora with additional activities in Arraiolos and Montemor-o-Novo. The expo focuses on the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in the Iberian Peninsula and the Americas. It will be held June 7-10, 2017.
The program will be based on the premises of the Expo: impulse, commitment, diversity, industry and identity.
The program will feature 18 showcases from all Iberoamerica as well as 12 Off-EXIB concerts representing the music of the Portuguese regions. The expo will include a professional area with booths to disseminate information and generate networking.
The 4th edition of EXIB Música comes with important international collaborations as well as reflections on the space of musical management in the Creative Economy.
The program will also include the launch of projects, laboratories on music, meetings, masterclasses and documentaries of Ibero-American music.
One of the most exciting new fado vocalists, Gisela João will make her New York City debut at the Schimmel Center at Pace University on Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the first NY Fado Festival.
Gisela João’s self-titled debut CD (released in 2013), brought enthusiastic praise from the Portuguese and European press. Within two weeks of release it went straight to the top of the Portuguese charts. Her following live appearances decisively established her as a unique and uncompromising voice. While other singers communicate the fado’s strong sentiments exclusively through their voices, Gisela João’s fado is a full-body experience. Onstage, she jumps, she gestures, and she emotes.
Offstage, her interviews are equally wide-ranging and unrestrained. She moves swiftly from discussing fado to house music to Nick Cave and Nina Simone, affirming confidently that “all genres of music end up influencing all others because music thrives upon life itself.”
Gisela João was born in 1983, in the northern Portuguese city of Barcelos, rather than in Lisbon, the cradle of fado. Her career began when she procured her first contract by sending a portfolio of videos to Portugal’s major labels, signing soon after with the Valentim de Carvalho label (the most reputable fado label).
Both Gisela João and Nua were recorded not in sterile studios, but in Old World palaces located in and around Lisbon, the equipment trucked in and the interiors left untouched. Her video catalog contains a daring, even radical visual style, expressed possibly most powerfully in the video for “Labirinto ou não foi nada,” featuring not Gisela João but a transvestite artist in scenes of backstage and subterranean intrigue.
With the release of her second album Nua (Naked) she has jumped deeply into the most sacred territory of the fado canon—the repertory of the late Amália Rodrigues, undoubtedly the genre’s foremost exponent. In so doing, she stands an excellent chance of helping to redefine contemporary notions of the fado.
Gisela João also performs contemporary songs on Nua, such as “Noite de São João” (Night of Saint John), with lyrics written for the album by the female rapper Capicua. I’s the recount a tale of late-night romance with a very bad boy. João dismisses any criticism that this lyric is somehow beneath the fado. She stresses that fado was once a music of people living at the margins of society: scoundrels, ne’er-do-wells, seafarers. As she says, “I like traditional fado, pure and raw.”
Gisela João will be accompanied by Ricardo Parreira on the 12-string Portuguese guitar, Nelson Aleixo on the classical guitar, and Francisco Gaspar on the acoustic bass guitar. A pre-show talk on fado and a special exhibit from the Museu do Fado in Lisbon are included in the February 25th program.
Schimmel Center at Pace University Presents: Gisela João (NY Debut)
The Schimmel Center
Saturday February 25, 2017
3 Spruce Street, Manhattan
6:00 pm: Pre-Show Conversation with Fado Scholar Lila Ellen Gray
7:30 pm: Acoustic Trio (Portuguese guitar, classical guitar, acoustic bass)
8:00 pm: Gisela João
Tickets $29, $39 schimmelcenter.org/event/new-york-fado-festival
A fado exhibit from Museu do Fado in Lisbon will be on display in the Schimmel Center lobby
Acclaimed Portuguese flute virtuoso Rao Kyao has been involved in numerous cross-genre projects, ranging from jazz to world music and Portuguese folk music. His album Coisas que a gente sente (Things people feel) contains new compositions inspired by Portuguese music and the sounds of other cultures.
On Coisas que a gente sente, Rao Kyao plays his familiar bamboo player, accompanied by traditional Portuguese instruments such as the Braguese guitar and Portuguese drums.
The lineup includes Rao Kyao on bamboo flute and vocals; António Pinto on classical and Braguese guitar; Renato Júnior on keyboards and accordion; André Machado on percussion.
Coisas que a gente sente features evocative instrumental music that evokes the melodies of Portugal, Cape Verde, India and beyond.