For her album still in the works, Ramana Vieira, a resident of Vacaville and a convincing practitioner of fado, a melancholy type of Portuguese folk music, said the recording’s theme centers on her recent travels to Hawaii, Portugal and in Madeira.
Specifically, she added in a phone interview, the 12-track album – due out in early 2023 – is about the beauty of the jacaranda, a tree native to Brazil that produces clusters of fragrant purple flowers that she has views of the Pacific Ocean Range. of islands.
“The beauty of this one just haunted me,” said Vieira, who has also booked a show, titled “A Journey into the World of Portuguese Fado and Beyond,” at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 at Journey Downtown in Vacaville. His backing ensemble is Jeff Furtado, guitar; David Parker, bass; and Earl Jackson, drums.
But like any musical artist working in any genre, Vieira explores the contours, past and present, memories and more contemporary things, of his life in the new recording, with songs in Portuguese and English, covers of classics from fado and original compositions.
She “dived into my Catholic upbringing on ‘Mother Mary’ and a song, Vieira said, which peeks into ‘the divine woman’.
“It’s just a tribute to all the mothers in the world,” she said of the song, adding, “We have to salute the mothers of the world” and noting that her mother’s name is Mary.
Noting that songs from the album will be performed during the November 5 show, Vieira said the new recording will also feature a tribute to contemporary fado artist, Misia, covering “Paixones Diagonais” (Diagonal Passions and pronounced “Pie- shones deog-go-almost”).
On a recent trip to Portugal, Vieira visited the house – turned into a museum – that once belonged to Amalia Rodrigues, perhaps the most famous fado artist in the world.
“I got to see her wardrobe, her awards, her living room – she clearly entertained people – a beautiful guitarra (guitar),” she recalled. “She collected Japanese antiques. And her parrot is still alive. It’s in the kitchen, in a cage in the kitchen.
She also saw Rodrigues’ memoirs, his books, his stage costumes.
“Everything was so extravagant,” Vieira said, adding, “She wasn’t very tall.”
In her live shows, like one earlier this year at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts in Sebastopol, she sang an aria by Rodrigues, so the visit to her idol’s house was part of a personal journey and a tribute. to an idol.
“It was like going to Elvis’ Graceland,” she said. “It was such a profound experience to be in the house,” describing it as “a three-story Victorian house in San Francisco.”
On the last trip to Portugal, Vieira escorted her 87-year-old father, Abel, to his native Madeira and a Portuguese island in the eastern Atlantic and off the coast of Morocco.
“It was a nice reunion,” she said. “We were able to go to the village he was born in (Boa Ventura) and the house he grew up in.”
One night on the island, she dined at a restaurant where, besides food, fado is on the menu.
“The cook would come out and sing,” said Vieira, who in recent years has performed in Macau, New York and Hawaii. “The wait staff, a server, burst into song. I was invited to sing,” and she sang a Rodrigues song.
“I was terrified,” she recalls. “I was euphoric, with a hint of ‘Oh, shit!’ I got a compliment from the owner of the restaurant I was asked to play with the authentic people you hope to authentically match the intensity and caliber of the musicians they were born with.
Vieira, whose voice is loaded with weight and power, thought she “had succeeded. I remember feeling relieved after I finished. It was my vision of fado. There was loud and resounding applause. »
In a previous interview with The Reporter, Vieira called fado, its name roughly translating to fate or destiny, “a window into the soul” of the Portuguese, their roots music, comparing it to American blues, or what tango is to Argentina, flamenco to Spain.
The lure of fado – pronounced “FAH-doh” – with mysterious origins traced to early 19th-century Portugal and enjoying a growing fan base in the United States (even Madonna sang fado on her tour” Madame X” more than two years ago), is in her melodies, the hummable part of every song, she says.
The music is seductive, passionate and plaintive, but also poetic and dramatic. They are, more than anything else, love songs of tragedy and nostalgia, or “saudade” in Portuguese, said Vieira, a San Leandro native and alumnus of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater program.
References to fado in Portugal surfaced as early as the 1820s, the music sung by women lamenting their men lost at sea, or from a difficult rural or urban life, but its roots may also have Moorish influences.
Although the genre has its traditions, Vieira, in the previous interview, said that she considers her styles of fado to be “contemporary fado”, where the old world meets the new, much like the approach taken by d other well-known active fado singers. Among them, Ana Moura and Mariza, all indebted to Rodrigues, sometimes nicknamed “the queen of fado”, who died in Lisbon in 1999 at the age of 79. While some men also sing fado, it is best known today for its female performers. .
Vieira, who also plays the piano during his live performances, has released four albums: “Sem Ti” (Without You), “Despi A Alma” (roughly translated as Bare Soul), “Lagrimas De Rainha (Tears of the Queen) and “Fado Da Vida” (Fate of Life). They are proof that Vieira not only pays homage to Rodrigues, but also signals that she can compose original fado music. Notably, her original composition, “Unido Para Amar”, was performed during the opening ceremony of the 2006 Olympics.
Pop, rock and jazz can be heard seeping into her sound, some of which is available on YouTube, and her influences include Irish rock superstars U2 and English singer-songwriter Kate Bush. . At the end of the day, Vieira’s sound is certainly a mixture of U2, Bush and Rodrigues.
This fado is “theatrical and very expressive” was an emotional and technical connection to her debut “as a theatrical person”, she said in the previous interview.
Vieira performed in musicals at California State University Hayward and Ohlone Community College in Fremont. She is also a trained dancer.
After performing in the Bay Area a few years ago, she was approached by a record producer who worked with reggae star Bob Marley. She eventually received an offer from a San Francisco record company.
Like the blues, fado is a feeling, a sentiment, and more than a set of notes. Its power stems from the human spirit, Vieira said.
IF YOU ARE GOING TORamana Vieira and EnsembleA journey into the world of Portuguese fado and beyond When: 7 p.m. on November 5 (doors open at 6 p.m.) Where: Journey Downtown, 308 Main Street, Vacaville Tickets: $23 for seniors, military, students ; $28generalevents.journeydowntownvenue.com