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Singer Ana Moura Explores the Possibilities of Fado

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Friday March 15, 2013

From the Boston Globe

Singer Ana Moura explores the possibilities of fado
By: Siddhartha Mitter

Fado, the elegant Portuguese song form that is enjoying a great renewal, was never quite as rigid as it appears. Its austere setup, with a singer backed only by acoustic guitars, and its constant reverence for fadistas of the past conceal its openness to new ideas. Amália Rodrigues herself — fado’s central figure in the 20th century — made fado out of music of other countries. Her successors today look to rock and other sources, even as they cultivate the classic songbook and esthetic.

Ana Moura, who visits the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday, is one of the latest singers to come out of the Lisbon taverns where fado’s essence resides and become one of its global ambassadors. She embodies, at a high level, modern fado’s duality: Her potent contralto and her traditional fado treatments have earned her Amália comparisons at home — the ultimate connoisseur’s praise. But she has also shared the stage with the Rolling Stones, and one of her big fans is Prince.

Even so, “Desfado,” Moura’s fifth album, which has just come out, represents a remarkable set of departures bundled into one project. It was not made in Lisbon, but in Los Angeles, with the veteran producer Larry Klein. It features Moura’s guitarists, but also American session musicians on the most un-fado-like keyboards, saxophone, and drums. Three songs are in English.

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