Portuguese vocalist Ana Moura has emerged as a leading voice of traditional fado with her captivating interpretations of her country’s soulful answer to the blues. With a luxuriant voice and captivating stage presence, Moura has taken the art form in new directions and will be backed by Portuguese guitar, acoustic guitar, double bass, keyboards and drums.
“Her mesmeric appeal radiates from within, even if you don’t know a syllable of Portuguese. Her ability to alternately whisper, growl and ring like a silver bell are the hallmarks of a fine singer.”—NPR Music
Ana Moura was born in Santarem, the bustling capital of the Ribatejo province in the center of Portugal’s heartland on the Tejo River northeast of Lisbon. She grew up in a musical family and developed an appreciation for all kinds of music, including her native fado, Portugal’s expressive lament of destiny which has been likened to the wrenching melancholy of the blues, Argentine tango, Spanish flamenco and Greek rebetika. In her late teens, Moura sang in pop and rock bands but always included at least one fado number in her performances. At the age of 22, she attended a show at one of Portugal’s famed fado houses and, on a whim, got up to sing to an overwhelming response. It was here where she met Jorge Fernando, who used to perform with Amalia Rodrigues. They formed a musical partnership that took Moura to the next level; a partnership that remains today.
Moura’s rich voice and stunning looks quickly won her airtime on local television programs devoted to fado and rave reviews in Lisbon newspapers. Today, Moura has emerged as a leading voice of the traditional fado. Moura, like her younger contemporaries, mixes classic fado standards with songs that combine the historic emotions behind the art with lyrics that reflect a more youthful sensibility. One classic, often-forgotten technique that Moura employs to great effect is vocalisos, the improvisational expression of words and emotions through vocal trills and inflections.
In 2003, Moura released her debut album, Guarda-Me a Vida Na Mão, on World Village to critical acclaim. She became the youngest fadista to be nominated for the prestigious Dutch Edison Award, the Dutch world music equivalent of a Grammy, after the release of her second album, Aconteceu in 2004. The album showed Moura’s musical path as a marriage between the traditional fado and her personal way of making it contemporary. Her multiple award-winning third album released in 2005, Para Alem da Saudade, stayed on the charts for 120 consecutive weeks and achieved double platinum status. In March 2005, she became the first Portuguese artist to play Carnegie Hall, playing to a sold out crowd. She also shared the stage with the Rolling Stones at the Alvalade XXI stadium, performing in front of 30,000 people.
Moura’s fourth album, Leva-me aos Fados, was released in 2009 and quickly reached platinum status. In 2009, Ana Moura performed “Walk in Sand” and “Vou Dar de Beber à Dor” with Prince on the encore of his show at the Super Bowl Super Rock festival. The following year, she won a Portuguese Golden Globe, topped the Billboard and Amazon charts and was nominated for Artist of the Year in the English magazine, Songlines. In 2010 and 2011, she was invited to play at the San Francisco Jazz Festival with the Frankfurt Radio Bigband. Moura has also performed at La Cigale, Lisbon and Oporto Coliseums. She has been awarded the Amália Rodrigues award. In 2012, Ana Moura was featured in a tribute album to Caetano Veloso with a version of “Janelas Albertas nº2.”
Ana Moura is touring North America in support of her fifth studio album, Desfado. Her debut release for Decca, Desfado, was co-produced by Grammy-winner Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Tracey Chapman, Madeleine Peyroux) and recorded at Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles. It features 14 tracks, legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock and quintessential saxophonist Tim Reis (Rolling Stones).