wed 13/12/2017

Interview: Ana Moura on being Prince and Mick Jagger's protégé | reviews, news & interviews

Interview: Ana Moura on being Prince and Mick Jagger's protégé

Interview: Ana Moura on being Prince and Mick Jagger's protégé

How fado got its groove back

Ms Moura: the new princess of fado

My most rock’n’roll moment of the last year was probably travelling 120 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road in a black Mercedes as part of Prince’s police convoy on the way out of Lisbon to the Super-Rock Festival where the diminutive star was headlining. The traffic was completely jammed on the way to the concert and it was the only way to get there on time. In the convoy also were Tim Ries, The Rolling Stones’ regular sax player, and Ana Moura - Prince’s most recent protégé and Portugal’s latest and most celebrated young fado singer.

We were all slightly astonished to have arrived at the concert in one piece – where Prince went through all his greatest hits from "Kiss" to "Purple Rain". Then, unrehearsed, he sang a couple of spine-tingling fado songs with Moura, including the great Amália Rodrigues’s classic drowning-your-sorrows-with-drink song "Vou dar de beber à dor". Prince seemed to be enjoying himself more with her than during the re-run of the hits.

In this country Mariza is currently the best-known living fado singer, a style which developed in the 19th century and means “destiny”. In Portugal, it would be fair to say that Moura has the edge. She is also considered by the cognoscenti, a little snobbishly perhaps, to be closer to the real soul of fado and the lineage of Amália Rodrigues than Mariza.

Significantly, Amália Rodrigues’s one-time guitar player, Jorge Fernando, is Moura’s producer and co-writer of most of the songs on her last highly accomplished album Leva-me aos fados (Take me to the fado house). She says she feels a close affinity with Rodrigues. “She was a very emotional woman – so am I. I can laugh and five minutes later I’ll be crying,” she comments when I meet her the day after the Prince concert in a café (see picture of Prince and Ana Moura on stage, below) overlooking the Atlantic on the edge of Lisbon. As for Mariza? “She’s really very good. Her shows are very professional, not that I’ve managed to see any. I’m happier talking about myself.”

She makes me decidedly jealous as she says she went to bed at 8am having spent a few hours singing “blues and fado songs” in Prince’s massive hotel suite with his gospel-singing backing singers and members of his band, a musical interlude which sounded more fun than his show. (I failed to crash that one: “only musicians – no journalists”, I was told. They seemed strangely unimpressed when I said Richie Blackmore of Deep Purple had once offered to take me on tour as his bongo player.)

Moura says that Prince, despite being a Jehovah’s Witness (he gave her a pamphlet) remains “playful and flirtatious, but an absolute gentleman”. Prince found her music on the internet, travelled to Paris to see her and then invited her to come and improvise with his band in Minneapolis. When I ask her to tell me something surprising about Prince, she says, “He is extremely studious and loves to read all the time. In Portugal he wanted to know all about the history of the country and the history of fado as well.” So will she record with him? Or perhaps there could be a romance? Moura doesn’t answer that one but laughs exquisitely, her soulful eyes gazing into the middle distance over the ocean.

Their fascination with her is understandable. Not just her striking looks, but her wonderfully bluesy voice and her heart-rending fado songs with their typical tales of doomed love, drinking and separation are pretty irresistible

As it happens, Prince isn’t the only megastar to be charmed by Moura. Saxophonist Tim Ries made an album of jazz-based versions of Stones songs as part of his “Rolling Stones Project”. The album, called Rolling Stones World, featured Moura on his versions of “No Expectations” and “Brown Sugar”. When Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and entourage caught her set in a fado club in Lisbon, she was also invited to share a stage with them the next night on their tour.

Their fascination with her is understandable. Not just her striking looks, but her wonderfully bluesy voice and her heart-rending fado songs with their typical tales of doomed love, drinking and separation are pretty irresistible. Now single, she confesses that while she was heartbroken when she split up with her ex, she was also aware that all the suffering might be good for her art.

She says she knew by the age of seven she would be a fado singer. “People can tell even by that age that you have the gift – even if the child doesn’t understand the words.” One explanation she thinks is reincarnation – that the child remembers, obscurely, the emotions of previous lives. Her ancestry too, she thinks, has something to do with her unique expressive style. Her grandmother was from Angola and “Africa runs through my veins”.

She does say that compared to the old-style fado women singers – the fadistas – in her songs women are less dependent on men. “We still like to drink. I always have some wine next to me on stage. But our generation are more strong and independent.” She adds, perhaps in case I have got a wrong impression, “I like the difference between the sexes – don’t you? I love being a woman.”

Watch Ana Moura perform “Cansaço”

 

She makes me decidedly jealous as she says she went to bed at 8am having spent a few hours singing 'blues and fado songs' in Prince’s massive hotel suite

Share this article

Comments

The part about Ritchie Blackmore is interesting.

Hey be sure to check out (and like) an awesome interview with the Grammy Award wining Producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with artists such as U2, the Talking Heads, the Rolling Stones, etc at: http://culturecatch.com/vidcast/steve-lillywhite

Just FYI: that is NOT Ana Moura in the photo with Prince, about halfway through the article.

Yes it is, it's Ana Moura with Prince in that photo!

Not sure, actually about the photo - but have replaced it with one of the two of them on stage.

It's Ana Moura with Prince in that photo (on stage)!

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters