I had a passing interest in Portuguese fado, so when the opportunity presented itself to see a free fado performance at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage in Washington, D.C., I naively went, not knowing what was in store for me. The evening's performer, the fadista Mariza, is making her first tour of the U.S. If you get a chance to see her, go! She's a mesmerizing performer, with an almost unearthly presence and beauty. She had the audience at the Kennedy Center in the palm of her hand by the end of the first song. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had tears in my eyes by the end of the song. The expressive, emotional interpretation of song is, of course, what fado singing is about, but Mariza's singing has a freshness and intensity that is almost startling.
A favorite of her performance, and one of the standouts on this album, is the visceral "Barco Negro," the lament of a woman whose lover has just gone to sea. On other cuts from this albut, Mariza runs the gamut of emotions, from jubilation to deepest melancholy, with every shade of feeling in between.
The only reason (perhaps unjust) that I give this album four stars rather than five is that it pales beside the memory of her live performance. By the way, this performance can be viewed online at the Kennedy Center's Millenium stage performance archive... by entering 'Mariza' into the site's search engine.