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Mafalda Arnauth

(N. 4 October, 1974 - M. October, 1974)

“Born in Lisbon, on the 4th October in 1974, her passion for music manifested itself since the early days of her life. Nevertheless, in her youth, she never aspired for a career as an artist. Not withstanding, the show business world caught up with her while she frequented the last year of her Veterinary university degree. Through a series of chance events, what started as an academic performance ended up transporting Mafalda Arnauth to the world of stages, rehearsals and Fado houses, wherein she allowed herself to artistically grow from the energy of applause, public appreciation and a constant further self-discovery though the art of singing.

Owner of a captivating freshness which derived from her nature and life experiences never before connected to Fado music, she swept audiences with her youthful spontaneity and the correspondent unique way in which she reinterpreted old and classic hits of the genre. As naturally as she had begun her career, Mafalda Arnauth quickly went further on, letting her creative flame grow up to the point where she lent her own nature to the Fado’s spinal chord.

The more she created her own original Fado themes, the more she revealed herself to be a new hope for the rebirth of the genre.

The singular voice of Mafalda Arnauth – and her unique way of dwelling in the Fado universe – could not remain, therefore, aloof from the record industry.

Disputed by many, she ends up signing a contract with EMI Music. In Portugal, the multinational record company was, at the time, the strongest publishing house for Fado and home for giants of the genre, like the mythical Amália Rodrigues.

“Mafalda Arnauth”, her debut record, sees the light of day in 1999. Side by side with Fado classic compositions, the album is also filled with her own compositions, mostly due to the informed persuasion of her producer, the acclaimed João Gil.

The debut record becomes an instant smash hit and best seller. Cherished by the public and acclaimed by critics, Mafalda Arnauth sees herself transported to the highest heights of popularity in her 24th year of life. She is awarded the “New Talent Of The Year” award from "Blitz" music newspaper and nominated, the following year, in the category of “Best Singer” in the Portuguese Golden Globe Awards.

Important as it was, Mafalda Arnauth’s debut album was not quite a “first step”.

It should be – and was – seen as the crystallized result of hundreds of intimate performances in Fado houses and dozens of live concerts throughout the country and abroad, mainly in Europe. Born out of the maturity experience of those performances, the record was also a ground setter for a much more professional series of shows.

Mafalda Arnauth is by then a real “stage animal”, letting herself go as never before, setting her shyness aside forever and widening her repertoire even further. Her goal is to give more and more of herself to her audiences and being able to better represent Portugal’s traditions and culture, revised according to her own words and music. One year after the success of her debut album, following a long period on national and international tour, Mafalda Arnauth returns to Portugal, her biggest challenge yet to come: the first concert ever in Lisbon, home of Fado. She is to perform in the grand auditorium of Belém Cultural Centre and the hugely demanding concert hall is sold to full capacity, weeks in advance.

Utterly subdued and seduced, the audience toasts Mafalda Arnauth with the uncontained applause of pleasure, making it clear to her – if there were still any doubts – that all things next have to be even bigger and better. This is the public need and Mafalda’s will and hope.

A popular saying states that “the poet does not sleep and neither does the creator”. And how true this becomes, on March 2001. Mafalda Arnauth deals her cards once more, publishing her second album, “EstaVoz Que Me Atravessa” (roughly translatable as “this the voice ‘who’ crosses through me”).

Simultaneously released in Portugal and the Netherlands through EMI Music, this record is produced by Amélia Muge and José Martins, both of them musicians with deep roots in the traditional Portuguese music. Ricardo Rocha plays Portuguese guitar, José Elmiro Nunes plays the viola and Paulo Paz goes on bass.

“Esta Voz Que Me Atravessa” is a happy folow-up to Mafalda’s debut album. Inspired by the poetry of Hélia Correia and the genial music of Fausto Bordalo Dias, the record mirrors a profound artistic growth for the artist. Shortly after, Mafalda Arnauth becomes the first Portuguese artist to be worldwide represented by Virgin Records.

In October 2001, Mafalda Arnauth stages her second concert in Lisbon. One year after acclamation in the Belém Cultural Centre, she wins over the thorny concert hall of Culturgest - once again sold to full capacity, several weeks before the show. This new live success marks the beginning of yet another demanding tour that takes Mafalda Arnauth to several European capital cities.

Months later, an even richer and more mature artist returns to Portugal, for yet another challenge, in Oporto. She is to embody the theme “Fado, the new generation”, at the Festival “A Port of Fado” in the Monastery of S. Bento da Vitória. Both the singer and the organization know they are “at risk”. Eternal “rival” of Lisboa and many times adverse to the capital’s traditions, the northern city may not respond well to the show. Still, what happens in the end is surprising enough to surpass even the best expectations. Fado does work in mysterious ways… and Mafalda conquers yet another improbable city with her voice and music.

2002 is lived intensely, almost up to the edge, with a “ruthless” series of live concerts by popular demand, a natural consequence of Mafalda Arnauth’s growing popularity and acclaim. Boosted by just a handful of new talents, Fado experiences a much desired and awaited revival. Almost 30 years after its decline, the genre hits mainstream once more, regaining its rightful place at the top of Portuguese references. It is by then that Mafalda’s third album starts shaping up.

“Encantamento” (“Enchantment”) is a milestone. Mafalda Arnauth goes one more step beyond her work as singer/songwriter and feels ready to take charge of the record’s production. “Encantamento” is a jem: while the essence of Fado remains untouched, the álbum compositions almost completely abandon usual Fado concepts such as fatality, disgrace, loneliness and shadow. In “Encantamento”, yet another hot on sales and on critic praise, Mafalda Arnauth uses sadness as food for hope; suffering as inspiration for clear days; and hardships as a driving force for life ahead. 2003 becomes, hence, an unforgettable year of grace. Mafalda Arnauth embraces the satisfaction only possible to those who achieved a unique piece of mind, the kind of which is only possible when one begins to feel one may very well have reached what one was on a quest for.

On stage, benefiting from the force of fully grown maturity and experience, changes are quite noticeable. In fact, it is increasingly clear that Mafalda Arnauth achieved the highest degree of empathy with her audiences, putting her emotions - and her own self – forward in such a way that time seems to stand still while she is singing live.

She evolves in courage, in her ability to clutch at straws, in her love for the art of Fado and in the awareness of what constitutes the major duty of an artist: to be absolutely and utterly generous with his or her audiences. As a result of this, her repertoire becomes even more varied and her composition skills, finely tuned from life, help her to always meet up with the renovation demands from the public.

Ever since the launching of “Encantamento”, Mafalda Arnauth went on to a life of constantly being “on the road”, both in Portugal and abroad, namely in Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Greece, Macau, Sweden, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The stage performance that left best memories in all countries abroad was the one in Concertgebow, in Amsterdam: be it because of the concert’s importance, be it due to the fact it was – and is – one of the most prestigious concert halls in Europe. In there, Mafalda experienced one of the most emotional moments of her career, thanks to the enthusiastic reaction of 2400 spectators. On a different note, Mafalda Arnauth cherishes the memory of the concert week she had in Greece, in a very famous jazz club wich reminded her of the Portuguese Fado houses ambience.

In what comes to the most impressive place for concerts, Mafalda Arnauth has no doubt in saying she considers the London Royal Albert Hall to be “it”. Equipped with magnificent sound conditions and an exceptional architecture, this venue provided her with a memorable live performance...

2004 marks the spot for the beginning of a turning point in Mafalda Arnauth’s career. Not so much an act of disenchantment; but more as a means for a willing and necessary creative leap, Mafalda Arnauth steps out of EMI Music. Not withstanding, their shared past, the prolific present and the early foreseen future of respect and cooperation made it possible to issue, in June 2005, Mafalda Arnauth’s “Best Of” album: “Talvez se Chame Saudade” (roughly translatable as “maybe this can be called ‘to miss’).

The launching of this Best Of album, to which Mafalda Arnauth played an active role in promotion, ended up being an important source of inspiration – mostly because of the memories it woke up. This compilation was a clear proof of her growth as an artist, mapping her every evolving steps and the partaking of her career with all those third parties involved; her struggle to overcome insecurities and uncertainties; and her irrefutable option for music, her true calling. “Talvez Se Chame Saudade”, the Best Of album, is also an eternal moment in time suspended, as a tribute to the Fado that is, in more than one way, almost a second skin to the life of Mafalda Arnauth, even in those songs where the frontier between tradition and self-experience is somewhat unclear. In this fine line, in fact, reside most of the songs that come out of the mists of mystery.

Now that 2005 has stretched to its half, Mafalda Arnauth concludes she has finally succeeded in gathering the perfect musical partners, a cohesive group that allows her to adequately draw her musicality, giving her added incentive to keep writing her own music and to discover new and enhanced ways of expressing herself.

Mafalda’s ensemble comprehends Paulo Parreira on Portuguese guitar; Diogo Clemente and Luís Pontes on classic guitar; and Ricardo Cruz on bass.

Working with these musicians has been “magnificent”, according to the Fado singer.

Side by side with her career changes, Mafalda Arnauth has also evolved in her personal habits, setting herself off to a much healthier life. The demands of an increasingly absorbing professional life – with an average of 15 live performances per month – have “obliged” her to opt for new rules in diet, sleep, exercise and singing techniques, as well as the emotional background to sustain all the above.

This person is the Mafalda Arnauth who gave us her fifth album, “Diary”, launched on 31st October 2005. This is probably the most up-close and personal of them all, given the fact that it is almost like a diary. The new album captures the widest possible range of her life inspirations – relationships (of friendship, of love, happy, sad, break-ups, disappointments, new hopes…); the magic of special rendezvous; her artistic references (Amália Rodrigues, Maria Bethânia, Charles Aznavour, Astor Piazzola…); her partnerships; and her own personal walk though life, guided by inner visions of philosophy, attitude and vision, as well as her options, doubts and tribulations…

The new record promotes, therefore, the synthesis between the current life of Mafalda Arnauth and all the factors and vectors that made her what she is today. Creatively dual and certainly unique, its diversity ranges from the traditional Fado to the new contents and issues of everyday life, set on putting aside the idea that this music genre is fated to dwell, forever and ever, in a shrouded universe of dark and heavy sadness.

There is much strength in the temerity of stating, as she does in one of her new songs, “Audácia”: “away he goes, the dark fado; away with the walls of fear”.”

Lisboa, November 2005

Other discography: "Flor de Fado" (2008); "Rua da Saudade" (2009) - This project by Mafalda Arnauth, Viviane, Susana Félix and Luana Cozeti, pays tribute to the poet Ary dos Santos; "Fadas" (2010).



Mafalda Arnauth, s/d.

Mafalda Arnauth Foto de Inês Gonçalves, Disco "Esta Voz Que Me Atravessa", EMI, 2001

Mafalda Arnauth Foto de Inês Gonçalves, Disco "Esta Voz Que Me Atravessa", EMI, 2001

Mafalda Arnauth, s/d.

  • Meus Lindos Olhos Mafalda Arnauth (Mafalda Arnauth)