Ana Sofía Varela was born in Lisbon, although she grew up in the countryside (Serpa, Alentejo), where she lived until a few years ago, when she returned to the capital.
Her first contact with fados came as she listened to songs by Amália, at the age of 10. By the time she was 14 years old, she had become an increasingly popular fixture at local fado clubs and schools.
Her commitment to and contact with traditional Alentejo music has been a constant factor since her childhood. She created her own repertoire from fados by Amália and Nuno de Câmara Pereira and the lyrics of Rui Veloso, Vitorino and Resistência.
She then took part in a number of local fado competitions, and reached the finals of the Portuguese TV programme "Selecçao Nacional" as “the most beautiful and interesting voice of the Music Festival 95”. In 1997 she was invited to sing at a fado club in Lisbon, and on that occasion Carlos Zei introduced her to the famous Portuguese guitarist Mário Pacheco, with whom she later sang at many concerts (Macao, Japan, Italy etc.). She was subsequently invited to join the team of permanent artistes at "Clube de Fado", where she is a regular fixture.
Another important connection was her relationship with António Chaínho, who invited her to guest on a CD, " A guitarra e Outras Mulheres", with Marta Dias, Teresa Salgueiro (Madredeus) and Filipa Pais. This subsequently evolved into a European tour.
At Expo 98 she took part in "De Sol a Lua- Flamenco & Fado", a tour of Spain, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. In 1999 she accepted João Braga’s invitation to sing at a number of concerts, and this produced another CD, "Cem Anos de Fado".
The launch of the "Ana Sofía Varela" CD in 2002 marked the beginning of a new direction in her career: the public discovered “the fado they had been waiting for for so long”. This album arose from the "De Sol a Lua- Flamenco & Fado" tour, during which two of the composers, João Monge and João Gil, introduced her to Manuel Paulo Felgueiras de Alas dos Namorados, who produced the CD.
"I was given the chance to sing what I wanted to sing, all the songs I love to sing: classical fados, new songs, experimental songs influenced by flamenco … of course, everything I sing sounds like a fado, because that’s what I am – a fado singer."
Nor did she forsake her origins: "My childhood in Serpa gave me so much contact with music in Alentejo and Spanish music. João Monje is from the same area, and while we were working on the CD we would chat about local traditions, and I asked him to write a poem about all these things ("Ducados"). Manuel Paulo was then inspired by flamenco and Alentejo music for the musical arrangements with Pedro J'oia on flamenco guitar … this became a homage to my musical and personal relationship with Serpa.”
On the poetry side, the great Vasco Graça Moura heard her singing "Las Letras do Fado Vulgar" live, and offered her a book of poems based on the fado. Mário Pacheco also features on two songs in the album.
She claims that "Ana Sofía Varela" is a dream come true, at the right time, with the right people. Songs about Love, Passion, Hope – these are the deepest emotions that anyone can ever feel …"
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