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Soundtracks: Music without Borders

Global Hit: Mariza

The melancholy, passionate vibratos of fado singers spill at night from old taverns in the Alfama and Mouraria neighborhoods of Lisbon. Soulful and haunting, fado (meaning "fate" in Portuguese) captures something essential about Portugal. The songs are often about love and loss. Often a fadista is a woman dressed in black, singing with great dignity and drama, accompanied by a Portuguese guitar player and a classical guitarist.

The genre can be traced back to the 1820s in Portugal. Some say it came earlier from Africa, while others attribute it to the sailors and fishermen off the Portuguese coast. It took root in the working class bars of Lisbon and gave rise to 20th century stars like the unforgettable Amalia Rodrigues. Today, a young generation of fado singers is embracing the centuries-old music, redefining and reinvigorating the tunes. And the reigning fadista is Mariza.

Introduced by reporter Mirissa Neff, a tall, elegant Mariza, with her signature platinum blonde hair, sings "Minh' Alma" ("My Soul").

Mariza was born in what was then Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique to a Mozambican mother and Portuguese father. The family emigrated to Lisbon when Mariza was three, and since then, she has been surrounded by fado; the singing never ceased in the Mouraria tavern her parents owned.

In 2001, Mariza released her first album, Fado em Mim. National and international recognition quickly followed. In 2003, she was selected "Best European Artist" by BBC Radio 3; the following year, she won the "European Border Breakers Award," an award sponsored by the European Union. In 2007, her album "Concerto em Lisboa" was nominated for a Latin music Grammy. Mariza also starred in the recent music documentary, "Fados," by director Carlos Saura.

"Minh Alma"

by Paulo de Carvalho

Oh soul! My soul
Tell me who I am
Oh soul! My soul
Tell me where I am bound

Lisbon, make love to me,
That's where I'm bound
Running through the streets of the past
My fado [destiny] is the future,
But I vow, my love,
That I will make love to my past
Without saying where I'm bound

Oh soul! My soul
Tell me who I am
Oh soul! My soul
Tell me where I am bound

When I get away from myself
I am the sea
Of other lands, of other people
Who I have never seen
My song and my dream have not died, my love
My love, I am the people
I am farther from me

Credits: Mariza's Band

Angelo Freire, Portuguese Guitar
Diogo Clemente, Classical Guitar
Marino de Freitas, Bass Guitar
Simon James, Piano, keyboards and trumpet
Vicky Marques, Drums/percussion
George Cruze, Tour Manager
João Cebolas, Audio Engineer
Mario Capucho, Monitor Engineer
Jorge Pato , LD

Production Credits

Frank Zamacona, Producer
Mirissa Neff, Reporter
Dan Friedman, Editor
Kevin Cates, Camera
Bruno Ewald, Camera
Emily Taguchi, Camera
Lynton Vandersteen, Camera
Fred Tetzner, Sound

PRI's The World's Global Hit

Regular public radio listeners will recognize the "Global Hit" name from PRI's daily program, The World. We thank them for letting us borrow it. Created by Marco Werman, the radio version features interviews with musicians, critics and DJs around the globe. You can check out the latest one, and browse through the archives, on The World's web site.

On Sound Tracks, our version of the "Global Hit" will be a musical performance at the end of each episode, introduced by Marco or one of our other reporters. As our first example, we are delighted to present the incomparable Mariza.

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