Historias da rua
DONA ROSA - vocals, triangel
Ricardo Dias - accordion (track 2, 4, 6,7)
ANGELITE Bulgarian Voices (track 3, 9)
Even today, in the year 2000, fairy tales still happen — tales that read as if they were straight out of the Arabian Nights. This is the miraculous story of the blind Fado singer DONA ROSA of Lisbon:
In 1999 a Portuguese production company was asked to find a Fado songstress for an Austrian Television Company production to be recorded in Marrakesh. The programme’s musical director — the well-known Viennese artist and impresario André Heller — had a particular blind street singer in mind, a woman he had heard many years earlier, whose voice had moved him deeply and haunted his memory ever since. The search proved to require quite some detective work but in the she was finally found — Dona Rosa.
Who is Dona Rosa?
She was born on February 1, 1957 in poverty. At the age of four she contracted a severe case of meningitis to which she lost her eyesight. Her family, whose only means of livelihood was begging, could not easily accept the child’s handicap but managed to provide a basic education for her. She learned to read and write and carry out simple manual tasks ... and she became acquainted with the traditional songs of Portugal.
When she came of age she realised that she must leave her family for good: The day she arrived home in North Portugal she turned around and took the next train back to Lisbon.
There, with the help of other blind homeless persons, she quickly learned to master the art of survival on the street. What she didn’t earn by selling magazines and lottery tickets she earned by begging, until the day somebody suggested she use her beautiful voice as a means of livelihood.
And so there emerged on the streets of Lisbon a singer who sensitively translated her bitter fate into music. Gradually, Dona Rosa became an inseparable element of the cityscape.
Today, accompanied by a triangle once given her by a friend, she sings her own special brand of Fado. More so than traditional Fado, her song gives expression to all of the misery suffered by the poorest of the poor, and to their profound longing for the good life they will never call their own.
Production of the CD
In fall and winter of 1999/2000 DONA ROSA recorded the first songs in the church "Igredja do Nenino-Dues". In the course of the recordings it became apparent that the addition of guest musicians could make this recording a gem. On four songs DONA ROSA was accompanied by the accordionist Ricardo Dias (among other things the arranger and composer for Misia). Their cooperation went so smoothly that they decided to do the concerts as a duo. During the production in Marrakesh DONA ROSA met the world-famous choir THE BULGARIAN VOICES ANGELITE. JARO was able to arrange for DONA ROSA to be accompanied by the choir on two of the tracks on this album. Furthermore, in accordance with a wish for documentation expressed by DONA ROSA herself, one of the songs was recorded where a large part of her life has taken place – in the street.
And so a modern fairy tale takes its course: The ”Stories of the Street” will be released in Europe in Autumn 2000, at which time several concerts are also scheduled in Central Europe.
In Morocco Dona Rosa soon became the secret star of the production. It was there that her cooperation with JARO and the recording of the CD were decided upon.
In 1989 Ricardo Dias (accordion) became a member of the Brigada Victor Jara, initially as a musician and subsequently as producer and arranger for a large number of their albums. In Boston he worked in with the Portuguese guitarist Nuno Bettencourt before he being invited to join the band of the singer and composer Fausto. Dias has not only written and produced for many well-known artists, be also writes music for films and TV. In addition he continues to perfom live with various musicians and ensembles.
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