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The eccentrically-coiffed Mariza was born in Mozambique and grew up in a Lisbon neighborhood purported to be the birthplace of the fado. Of course, no neighborhood can claim that distinction with any truthfulness, but it might now legitimately claim to be the rebirthplace of fado, considering that Mariza grew up singing there and has almost single-handedly resurrected the classic music from its untimely grave. While new fadistas abound -- including the likes of Christina Branco and Mafalda Arnauth -- it was Mariza's voice that made BBC 3 and other world music programs sit up and take notice. Her debut, 2001's Fado Em Mim, succeeded because she didn't treat the fado as a relic or as an elegant staging ground for her marvelous vocal talent. Instead she adhered to an old school of thought which says that to be any good, a singer needs to connect emotionally -- maybe even spiritually -- with the lyrics. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Mariza does: her fado is the sound of bereft sailors' wives, of loneliness and of little port towns set against squalling seas. She also experiments with other Portuguese folk forms -- she can even sing upbeat songs -- and has turned increasingly to original compositions with each successive album.
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