If the legendary singer Amália Rodrigues is the queen of fado, the national song genre of Portugal, this debut by Mariza announces her coronation as its crown princess of the 21st century. This twentysomething, Mozambique-born beauty of Portuguese, Spanish, German, African, and Indian descent rapidly rose from the Mouraria district of Lisbon to become fado's newest and brightest star. The 12 selections on this recording are arranged in chamber-style ensembles consisting of bass, piano, classical guitar, and its 12-stringed, Portuguese cousin, the Portuguese viola. Songs like "O Gente Da Minha Terra" and the traditional "Por Ti" ring with a haunting feeling of saudade
well beyond Mariza's years. "Maria Lisboa," "Ha Fest Na Mouraria" (with cellist Davide Zaccaria), and "Barco Negro" are peppered with Iberian and African-flavored percussion. Mariza sings these songs of love, God, and country with a youthful vitality that proves that fado is alive and well. --Eugene Holley Jr.