SF Jazz Center, Miner Auditorium
March 15, 2013
Senior Correspondent: Jana L.
Mariza has swept the world with her revival of fado, the Portuguese blues style of music, with a voice as impressive as the range of an opera singer. Mariza blends the traditional fado with African and samba rhythms inspired from her travels to the former Portuguese colonies such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.
Mariza's astonishing voice travels right to the core of my soul. Her art expresses longing with such passion and playfulness that it is impossible to turn away from her music. I can imagine tourists walking by a tavern on the narrow streets of Mariza's home quarters of Mouraria in Lisbon, Portugal hearing her voice and wanting to linger in a mesmerized state. Many of her fans probably recall the first time they heard Mariza sing. I remember exactly when it happened to me. My brother played her music while we were closing down my parents’ home. And I needed to know immediately who was singing.
Mariza treated San Francisco to sold out performances four nights in a row last week at the Miner Auditorium, the new SF Jazz Center. She appeared through dark purple lighting and entered the stage at first with a slow sway, standing exceptionally tall in a long sparkling gown, then just looking out at us all with amazement. It was as if she had met us before and wanted to reconnect. It seemed that this was not just another tour stop for her. She said how much she loves San Francisco as it reminds her of home, the bay, the hills. Her graceful beauty did not strike until the Portuguese guitar started playing and she began to shape the poetry of fado with her stunning voice and lively expressions from her hands and face.
She is able to strike a romantic and tender chord with such caring focus that it evokes emotions filled with both despair and relief. I was moved to tears by her performance. Even though, I don’t understand Portuguese, it is possible to find solace in the longing lyrics. How does her heart hold that much passion in performance after performance? In between the songs she was teasing and joking with her band members and the audience and told stories of her new marriage and motherhood. Her own life appeared more joyful than the sorrow of the fado she sang. She also said that she wanted to sing fado before she could read and fully understand it. Her father drew cartoons of the poetic fado songs to help her sing at only five years old.
Her talented band consisted only of: 12-string Portuguese guitar player, classical guitar, bass guitar and a percussionist yet were able to create a multicolorful world in the music. Their generous encores continued into the late night. She is simply remarkable, the most popular modern fado singer in the world! She gave us all a fantastic evening and for a little while took me away to Lisbon.
Songs to check out: Primavera (which she called her favorite of song of the late Amalia Rodrigues, Queen of Fado and one of Mariza's idols), Beijo de Saudade ("Kiss of Longing," a song recorded with Tito Paris of Cabo Verde which she performed without him), Barco Negro.