(NEWARK, NJ) -- Mariza returns to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on January 23, 2022 at 7:00pm for a 20th anniversary concert celebrating her entire career, including her most recent full-length album, Mariza Sings Amália. With this return to NJPAC, Mariza revisits a city—Newark—and a concert hall—NJPAC—that helped propel her into the stratosphere of Portuguese artists worldwide.
Mariza returns with a more intimate and personal sound, one that is grounded not only in her renewed explorations of classic fado, but also in her own lived experiences. The concert represents a milestone in her career: a moment for her, at the height of her powers, to re-examine the songs she helped make standards, while also looking unflinchingly towards the future.
Mariza's approach to singing fado—a traditional Portuguese music full of exquisite contradictions--embraces the new while never forsaking the old. Her early recordings of classic fados, such as "Primavera", mixed new and traditional instrumentation in support of soaring, emotionally searing vocals. Matched with a total commitment to live performance, she created millions of fans, yielding an astonishing level of critical and popular acclaim.
In the intervening years since her debut, Fado em Mim, audiences worldwide have come to realize what few did in 2001 at the dawn of her career: that this ambitious, even audacious, young talent would one day take complete command of each moment presented to her. Her performances are now fully formed, grounded in the confidence and wisdom gained from two decades of relentless touring, recording, and—it must be said—conquering a sometimes skeptical public, particularly in Portugal.
Mariza Sings Amália, released last year on Nonesuch Records, is a vivid re-engagement of the repertoire of the legendary fadista Amália Rodrigues, the artist whose work has served as a reference throughout Mariza's career. This is unquestionably Mariza's most introspective and personal record: her singing is controlled, subtle, expressive—even vulnerable. The arrangements are minimal, serving mainly to support her explorations into the meaning and sound of the lyrics. It's a startling, exciting record that harkens back to the pure, undistilled vocals of her early recordings, now suffused with the experiences of adulthood.
Mariza and her parents—an East African mother and a Portuguese father—left Mozambique for Portugal just three years after the 1974 revolution that shattered Portugal’s colonial empire. The family settled in Mouraria, an ancient and insular neighborhood of Lisbon named for the Moors who once lived there. Encouraged by her father, she began singing in public at Zalala, a restaurant owned by her parents. There, she learned about fado from some of the great fado singers of the 1980s, including Fernando Maurício and Artur Batalha. She also endured the many small indignities of being a mixed-race child in a country wrestling with its post-colonial identity. Now, when not on tour, she is known to appear spontaneously at some of the impossibly small fado houses that dot the landscape of Lisbon and through which fado finds its primal energy.
Her other life, the one she has guarded fiercely through her career, is with her extended family: in Mozambique, it branches out in multiple generations from her 15 maternal aunts and uncles; in Lisbon, it is centered on her and her son, Martim. Motherhood, and especially the trials of her son’s fragile health after birth, has clearly shaped her perspective as an artist. As she stated recently, “It made me a different person. My interpretations of the music are different because now I know love like I never knew it before.” And nowhere is this difference more evident than on the recent single "Mae" ("Mother"), the lyrics for which were left, handwritten on the kitchen table, by 10-year old Martim, and proudly registered in his name by his mother at the Portuguese Writers’ Association. The performance is a love song from son to mother and back again, with no pretense and with breathtaking honesty.
Mariza's catalog of recordings is a non-stop exploration of fado both as a tradition unto itself and as a musical form. Her recordings feature a startling breadth of collaborations with singers and musicians from other genres, including Sting, Brazil’s Gilberto Gil, Lenny Kravitz and flamenco singer Miguel Poveda.
Fado Tradicional (2010) opened her second decade as an artist with a tour de force of unbridled, uncompromising and pure fado, anchored in a series of improvised musical dialogues with guitarist Ângelo Freire. Released ten years apart, Fado Tradicional and Mariza Sings Amália establish new frontiers for traditional fado: they are each passionate paeans to fado as a way of life, filtered through the voice of a protean talent.
At NJPAC, Mariza will be accompanied by her long-time collaborator, Luís Guerreiro (Portuguese guitar), as well as by the musicians Phelipe Ferreira (classical guitar), Adriano Alves (bass guitar), João Frade (accordion), and João Freitas (drums and percussion).
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), located at One Center Street in downtown Newark, is America’s most diverse performing arts center, and the artistic, cultural, educational and civic center of New Jersey – where great performances and events enhance and transform lives every day. NJPAC brings diverse communities together, providing access to all and showcasing the state’s and the world’s best artists while acting as a leading catalyst in the revitalization of its home city. Through its extensive Arts Education programs, NJPAC is shaping the next generation of artists and arts enthusiasts. NJPAC has attracted 10 million visitors (including more than 1.8 million children) since opening its doors in 1997, and nurtures meaningful and lasting relationships with each of its constituents.
Photo by Miguel Angel