Amália Rodrigues

“Coração independente” - Independent Heart

 

Greater Portuguese voice, Amália Rodrigues sang Fado since her childhood. Her career has grown along with her. From the Lisbon streets to the major international stages, she gave her soul to the songs and took the emotion of fado everywhere in the world.

 

Lisbon, the capital of Fado and of Portugal, witnessed the birth of her first great diva in the '20s, in one of the oldest and most humble neighborhoods of Lisbon. The streets where she grew up were the same where Fado emerged. By that time, fado evolved from being the music of the poorest parishes to become a phenomenon by much wider audiences.

 

The artist as a young woman

 

The first Fado houses appeared and the young Amália, at the age of 19, debuted professionally in  one of the most important of those times, Retiro da Severa. There, this fado singer stunned the audience with her irreverent way of interpreting traditional themes. The first performances were a success, and by word of mouth this success expanded, bringing her new calls and a quick recognition of her talent.

 

Amália Rodrigues then had the opportunity to star in several shows of "Revista", which is  a popular theatrical genre with a strong musical component. Her skills as an actress emerge here. It is while interpreting a character in a "Revista" that Amália would create the iconic image of the Fado singer, dressed in black with a shawl over her shoulders.

 

After the premiere at the Retiro da Severa, it only took her four years for the success of her voice to go beyond borders. Madrid was the singer's first international destination, followed by Brazil. Rio de Janeiro surrendered to the charms of this unique figure and a first agreed six-week stay becomes a three months stay. Amália leaves the country but promises to return, what she does the following year. It is then that Brazil adopts her as a superstar. It was also in Brazil where she recorded her first records, for her Portuguese producer feared that the records would keep the public away from the Fado houses.

 

Of the size of the world

 

Back in Portugal, Amália enchants on stage but also on the big screen. From the mid '40s, repeated successes in film performances earned her the recognition as the best movie actress in 1949. "Capas Negras" and "Fado - A History of Singing" are the major references of a period where she is Portugal superstar.

 

However, the country was too small for such a talent and, in the following decades, Amália is definitely an artist of world renown, taking the Portuguese Fado throughout Europe, Africa, Latin America and North America. She makes the delights of New York, where she is invited to sing on Broadway. During her stay in the U.S.A., she also acted in NBC's being the first Portuguese artist ever to appear on television.

The list of countries visited between the 50 and 80 is as large as the discography published not only in Portugal but in many countries that cheered her. Her contribution both as an artist and as a promoter of Portuguese culture has been consistently recognized through official honors and awards for artistic merit, such as MIDEM, an award that she received three times, the first of which from the hands of actor Anthony Quinn, with whom she would establish bonds of eternal friendship.

 

But no relationship was so strong and long-lasting as the one that she had with her fellow nationals. Beloved by the Portuguese, the whole country mourned for three days, following her death in 1999. Thousands of anonymous mourned her departure and claimed the National Pantheon as the fair eternal abode for their muse. Amália was a bold and courageous artist who pioneered and expanded Fado to its full potential, and with an authenticity that charmed her country and conquered the world - a world that will always have the word  Fado standing for Amália, and the word Amália standing for Fado.

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