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MarizaA Genre Reborn and a Singer Transformed: A New Mariza Brings a Smile to the World

Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” was never supposed to end up on the latest album by Portugal’s musical grande dame. Mariza, a fado powerhouse, and Brazilian pianist Ivan Lins were just clowning around, having some fun with the sweet song that’s been covered by everybody from Barbra Streisand and Diana Ross to Judy Garland and even Michael Jackson. That is, until they realized producer Javier Limón had been secretly recording them. When she looked up and saw tears in his eyes, she wondered what she had done. “I thought we broke something, I thought we did something wrong!” she exclaims. Sung with the kind of beautiful melancholy that only a fadista can bring, it instead ends up as a bonus track on the North American release of Terra (Four Quarters Entertainment / World Connection), a musical proclamation that Mariza has come into her own. Terra will be released Stateside on January 27, 2009, to coincide with an extensive three-month 47 city tour of North America.

Mariza calls “Smile” a gift, a “present for the kindness people have given to me through all this time, trying to understand me. It’s my way of saying ‘Thank you’.” And audiences have certainly enjoyed watching her transform. If her debut album Fado Em Mim was an effort to establish her knowledge of the fado tradition, having grown up in her father’s fado house in Lisbon, her second release Fado Curvo allowed her to put her own stamp on the tradition while demonstrating that there are more ways than one to move artistically from point A to point B. Her next release, Transparente, a more intimate, classically-inspired take on fado, expressed Mariza as a more experienced and sophisticated artist.

Since then Mariza has continued to wow audiences with her powerful talent as a live performer, recording the album Concerto em Lisboa w/Bonus DVD to a hometown audience of several thousand right next to that most visual icon of fado-the sea. She has also traveled the world, selling out concert halls, from Carnegie Hall and Disney Concert Hall to London’s  Royal Albert Hall and the Sydney Opera House, and winning awards, including a BBC World Music Award and 2008 Latin Grammy nomination.

Now a mature performer, Mariza’s Terra showcases the new voice of Portugal, a voice comfortable enough with Portuguese music to have some fun with it. On the one hand, Terra is firmly planted in tradition; tracks like “Já Me Deixou” and “Rosa Branca” rejuvenate well-worn, beloved songs of the past, and “Recurso” demonstrates her lifelong commitment to fado, having discovered this hand-written, never-published poem by David Mourão-Ferreira in a fado museum.

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