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Mariana ramos by anne-marie dias borges

Mariana ramos by anne-marie dias borges

Half way between Ella Fitzgerald and Césaria Evora, there is Mariana

Sensuality, originality and spirit, this is what Mariana Ramos brings to an already impressive pantheon of Cape Verdean singers. Over the years, she has reinvented herself and kept her fans more enthusiastic than ever.

Mariana is eclectic too, easily gliding from one rhythm to the next. Her soulful voice effortlessly adapts from a robust “cola sanjõn” from the island of São Vicente, to a suave “coladeira”, and even an invigorating “funana” the most upbeat form of Cape Verdean music and a genre exclusive to the island of Santiago. This adaptability is a direct result of her upbringing, an upbringing which took her way beyond the archipelago.

Born in Dakar, in neighbouring Senegal, Mariana’s first encounters with music were with her father’s, the famous Cape Verdean musician Toy Ramos, aka Tony de Bibia, and with the varied Senegalese music she grew up with. Today, one can still hear the poignant Senegalese drums in some of her compositions.

Cape Verdean influence

A few years later, she travelled to Cape Verde to live with “Bibia”, her beloved grandmother. The years spent in the popular district of “Monte Sossego”, on the island of São Vicente, had a profound impact on young Mariana, as this was where she got her first taste of Cape Verde’s impressive folklore and wide musical range. But it was in Europe, especially in Paris, where she later travelled to join her parents that Mariana performed for the first time. As soon as she was old enough, she joined a rock band, then a pop group before singing in a jazz quintet.

She is an avid learner of new sounds and styles and learnt with ease the repertoires of the greatest, from Edith Piaf to Rickie Lee Jones. Her early love affair with jazz has left a deep and soulful imprint on her singing style.

Mariana ramos by anne-marie dias borges

Recording with Morabeza Records

“Di Dor Em Or” or “From Pain To Gold” marked the debut of her recording career in 2000. The album, released under the distinguished label “Morabeza Records” comprises ten tracks and was an instant hit. Of “Di Dor Em Or” Mariana says that she was very proud to be singing on such a prestigious label, which was started in the 1960s by her uncle and owned at the time by her brother. Indeed, many great names of African music have found worldwide recognition under “Morabeza Records” such as Bana, Bonga and Voz de Cabo Verde.

It was also during this time, that Mariana decided to explore her musical heritage and affirm her love for her country and its music. Acclaimed composers Téofilo Chantre and Nazalio Fortes became her collaborators as she eagerly embarked on this journey of self-discovery.

Europe and Africa opened their arms to the Cape Verdean diva’s debut and soon a successful tour followed. Thanks to her charm and stage presence she quickly caught the eye of the famous French stage director, Richard Demarcy, who offered her a singing and acting role in “Oyé Lunan”, an Afro-Latino play which had tremendous success with over 600 shows throughout the world.

Further albums released

“Bibia”, her second album released in 2004, is a tribute to her grandmothers who both carry this nickname and by the same token to her father, Tony de Bibia, with whom she had the opportunity to collaborate for the first time. The famous guitarist wrote four of the songs on the album which was more intimate and traditional than its predecessor.

Her journey towards her origins led Mariana to her third album “Mornador”, which came out in 2008 and, according to the artist “best represents her universe”. Indeed, it was a labour of love and reflection. Six of the fifteen tracks were written by her, which proved that she was not only a voice to be reckoned with amongst other Cape Verdean singers but also an excellent song writer. “Mornador” was also the opportunity for Mariana to express herself in the many languages she speaks, demonstrating her multiculturalism and capacity to relate to different cultures and people. A bold move which was acclaimed by the media and finally granted Mariana worldwide recognition.

Angolan influences

It was Mariana’s love of dancing which was the inspiration for her latest album, “Suavidança” released in February 2011, a more upbeat style of music, which comprises subtle arrangements and more intricate compositions.

Her passion for her country and Africa in general is obvious with the song “Nzinga Mbandi”, dedicated to the Angolan queen – which she sings with Benin superstar Angelique Kidjo. When those two powerful African voices meet on this catchy track, magic happens and one feels oneself travelling back to the times of this Angolan heroine.

Over the years, Mariana Ramos has successfully established herself as one of the most interesting Cape Verdean artists. Her music represents her roots, her travels, her passions. It is refreshing, sassy and captivating, enriched by all the influences that have seduced her and which will undoubtedly seduce many listeners too.

For more information on Mariana Ramos visit: www.mariana-ramos.com

Mariana ramos by anne-marie dias borges