Please be prepare to hear me screaming in these clips. Also shout out to my brother for some of them!
May 3rd. 2019. 8:00 PM. Adrienne Arsht Center. One of the best moments in my entire life. Looking back on the years I’ve realized I got to experience a lot of great moments. I got to travel to states and countries with my friends, take my mom to New York, see One Direction, BTS, Backstreet Boys and Sam Smith live amongst others. I’ve lived a lot of great moments. But May 3rd will remain unforgettable.
Most of you who have gone on my blog know that I am Portuguese American. You also know that I am extremely proud of it. Growing up in Miami I was heavily influenced by the Hispanic culture. My cousins who visited recently were quick to notice that. A part of me doesn’t like it but I can’t help it. I am an Americanized Portuguese woman (something I’m learning to balance) and because of that I’m different from my family and friends overseas.
I’ve always loved going to Portugal because I got to be surrounded by the other half of me. The half I’ve craved to learn know more about. The half that I don’t get in Miami. So in essence I associate Miami with my american side. Although being a Miamian is complicated because you’re american mindset is a tad tangled up with Hispanic culture. It’s all very complex.
Now my two halves rarely align. Only in moments when I go to a Portuguese restaurant (not always great) or I drive up north to the nearest Portuguese store. In those places I feel comfortable to an extent. It’s still surreal to experience Portuguese culture in America because once again I’m not use to it.
But May 3rd was an exception. It was unbelievable. It was heart racing, emotional and a tad weird. On May 3rd I got to go see Mariza. In concert. Front row. In Miami of all places. You’re probably sitting their thinking who the hell is that? Well let me drop some knowledge on you. She’s a phenomenal singer. The woman is trained. Spectacular. The power and control she has is unlike any other I’ve ever witnessed live. She is basically in my opinion the Beyoncé of Portugal. Or more specifically of Fado. Now bear with me as I try to explain Fado. Fado is solely a genre of Portuguese music. It’s ours. It’s a mix of what I believe is jazz and blues that is typically accompanied by a 12-string Portuguese guitar. Fado literally translate to fate. It’s typically sung to express longing, pain and heartache.
“The Portuguese invented fado because we have a lot to complain about. On one side we have the Spanish with their swords; on the other side there’s the sea, which was unknown and fearful. When people set sail we were waiting and suffering, so fado is a complaint.” – Amália Rodrigues.
Now the reason I call Mariza the Beyoncé of Portugal and especially of Fado (of this generation at least) is because singing her songs or fado in general is like telling someone you’re going to be singing Whitney Houston. You immediately begin to judge them. It’s not an easy genre to sing, something that makes me even scared to do. But when someone can do it it is done beautifully. Mariza is that person.
(Clearly in the video above I am the singer of the family. But good try from my brother)
My mother and I were shaking with nerves and when she stepped out in beautiful blue/green shimmering gown I felt tears in my eyes. I’ve been listening to Mariza since I was a baby. Seeing her live in front of me is hard to describe without tearing up. Fado is about of my culture. It’s embedded in my DNA. I sat there starstruck. She was incredible. She spoke in Portuguese and translated in English with grace. I remember laughing to myself because only God knows how many times I had to do that. She even taught the crowd how to sing some of her songs. And yes, I did belt my heart out and caught a few eyes from the audience. No shame of course.
There were at least three defining moments for me.
- Mariza sung a song but not just any song. My favorite song. The only song from her that I am remotely confident to sing. I remember sitting, watching and singing every single word along with her. My mom kept trying to push me to sing louder. I couldn’t believe I was hearing it live. Watching her control and the way she commanded the audience left me speechless.
- The next moment was when she decided to sing one of the only songs she had ever written in her 20 year career. When she announced the title I heard my mom gasp and she gripped my hand. “That’s my favorite,” she whispered quietly. Seeing her face light up with pure joy. I couldn’t begin to even understand the emotions she must have been going through. My mom has lived in America for 30 years. That’s longer than the years she spent growing up in Portugal. I can’t imagine how much joy she must have felt to see her country, her culture on that stage. (Currently trying not cry in public as I type this). In that moment, watching my mom tear up rocked me with emotion. I felt so happy for her.
- Another moment was the last song she sang. ‘O Gente Da Minha Terra’ which translates to people of my land. This song is the hardest for me to listen to because it’s the most emotional. Now the rough translation of the chorus is: people of my land now I understand, this sadness which I carry on, was from you that I received. Now as for my interpretation it’s more like: the people of my land (my family and friends) I finally understand that the pain you went through was so that I could be here. I won’t lie I cried. In that moment I felt so incredibly at peace, that I truly belonged but most importantly I was happy that I got to share that moment with my mom next to me.
Another thing that was astounding was the amount of non Portuguese in attendance. I had no idea people knew about Mariza let alone Fado. But they were all excited. It also made me realized that if all these people despite the language barrier could enjoy fado than maybe the rest of America could.
Therefore one of my many many goals is to either perform fado on stage and/or have it be played on the radio. Music is one of the very few things that goes beyond culture, religion or race. It extinguishes barricades. No matter where your’e from, what religion you are or who you love we can all enjoy music. Especially Fado.
I hope I taught you something new and I hope you enjoyed the clips!