Portuguese vocalist Teresa Salgueiro's luminous voice and guitarist Pedro Ayres Magalh es' transporting songs have been at the heart of the Lisbon-based quintet Madredeus, which since 1986 has been enchanting audiences, first in their Portuguese homeland and then throughout the world. While the group is a mere 20 years old, its songs a distinctive style of soothing, melancholic, contemplative music steeped in Portuguese culture are timeless. While informed by pop and classical music, the center of gravity on all Madredeus albums is fado, the Portuguese "blues" of homesickness, and saudade, the sensibility that encompasses dreams and longings, hopes and landscapes.
Indeed, he says, the sound of Madredeus embodies saudade and is "one of the most genuine and modern expressions of what Portugal has always been truly about."
But Esteves Cardoso hastens to note that Madredeus is "not about Portugal or the Portuguese not even about Lisbon, so obviously and longingly (if sometimes mistily) reaching toward the Atlantic and all the other oceans but about the whole world, set to music. Knowing that its particular beauty and reason for living and dreaming is not in the color or sparkle of its eyes, but in the intensity, steadfastness and unswerving direction, or sweet obsession, of its gaze."
The band's story began in 1986 as a project to create a distinctively modern Portuguese sound. Pop bass guitarist Magalh es (from the band Herois do Mar) and Rodrigo Leao (who has since left Madredeus to pursue a solo career) began experimenting with an acoustic guitar-synthesizer sound and then enlisted accordion player Gabriel Gomes (from Setima Legiao, the same rock band Leao had been in) and classical cellist Francisco Ribeiro (who was studying at a music conservatory in Lisbon). But the lineup did not solidify until Magalh es and Leao discovered Salgueiro, who was 19 at the time and singing old fado songs in a bar. They invited her to join the improvising ensemble. It didn't take long for them to realize they had found the voice
they were looking for.
Band members rehearsed throughout the spring of 1987 in an old church in the Lisbon neighborhood of Madre de Deus (hence the group's name). A few months later Madredeus recorded a double album's worth of live material in the church and released its two-CD debut, Os Dias da Madredeus on the EMI/Valentim de Carvalho label. It came out in time for Christmas and was an immediate hit.
The follow-up Existir was released in the spring of 1990 and soared to the number one slot on the Portuguese charts thanks to the hit single "O Pastor" (which was later included on the U.S. version of the band's fourth album and U.S. debut, O Espirito da Paz). The second recording was also released throughout Europe, which led to extensive touring and the 1991 live double album, Lisboa. O Espirito da Paz was recorded in 1994 and also met with widespread success, especially in France where the group has enjoyed its greatest popularity
outside of Portugal.
At the time, Magalh es said, "Countries like Spain, Italy and Greece also accept our music as if it was their own. Audiences are familiar with the instruments we're playing and enjoy hearing the way we use them in the quiet arrangements of our songs. They also love just being in the physical presence of Teresa not to mention listening to the beauty
of her voice."
O Espirito da Paz was followed by the equally passionate and peaceful Ainda. The 1994 recording is the soundtrack to director Wim Wenders' film, Lisbon Story. After that success, Madredeus toured the world and continued to record, including O Paraiso (1997) and Movimento (2001), which
was followed by three years of
"Saudade is a state in which a person allows himself to experience contradictory feelings or cultivate nonlinear thoughts about love, life and time," says Magalh es. "For Madredeus, saudade is the key and the reason
we make music."
Portuguese vocalist Teresa Salgueiro's luminous voice and guitarist Pedro Ayres Magalhaes' transporting songs, have been at the heart of the Lisbon-based quintet Madredeus. Since 1986, Madredeus distinctive style of soothing, melancholic, and contemplative, Portuguese music has been enchanting audiences, throughout the world. The latest Metro Blue Records offering by the group is Faluas do Tejo, a transcendent 10-song CD that celebrates Madredeus' beloved Lisbon.
1 New "ADD's" this week: 44 Total Stations
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Baltimore(ADI), St. Louis, Madison WI