Cristina Branco (born December 28, 1972 in Almeirim, Portugal) is a Portuguese fado singer.
Cristina Branco was mainly interested in jazz, blues or bossa nova and forms of contemporary music, until her grandfather gave her, for her eighteenth birthday, a record of Amália Rodrigues. She discovered the emotion of fado there.
She frequently accompanies herself on the piano. On her records as in concert, she almost always benefits from the performance of Custódio Castelo on the Portuguese guitar. Branco and Castelo also compose pieces that are both resolutely modern and deeply rooted in tradition.
“Fado is life. I don’t see this music as fate. Fate is what we make of it, it is not something that happens by chance. I don’t believe in this nostalgia. I think fado is about life, about life that existed in the 1940s and 1960s, but also what existed in 2003. It is no longer about talking about the clichés of Portuguese society, of the sea, of sailors, discoverers who were leaving and women left alone to cry. Fado is much more than that, it is talking about today, about war if necessary. “.
With her pure and light voice, singer Cristina Branco has been able to revive the colors of fado and unearth the Portuguese cultural heritage. She opens her horizons by judiciously slipping in new sounds, as on the wonderful album Abril (2008), while also delivering some of her original compositions. In 2011, Fado Tango starts from fado to approach other spicy styles. With Alegria in 2013, Cristina Branco slips into the skin of twelve different characters.
Born in 1972, Cristina Branco grew up in Almeirim, a small Portuguese village located north of Lisbon, in a country where the Carnation Revolution of 1974 left its mark, where the “Queen of Fado” Amalia Rodrigues was prevented from singing and where this music is now a thing of the past.
The young Cristina intended for a career as a journalist and studied communication while listening to bossa nova, jazz or blues. It was on her eighteenth birthday that she fell in love with this traditional Portuguese style when her grandfather gave her an Amalia Rodrigues record: Rara e Inédita.
Cristina Branco then began to work on her voice by taking lessons, in the 1990s, at a time when young musicians were also trying to rehabilitate their musical roots. Her participation in a Portuguese television show allows her to perform in Holland where she gives a concert at the theater in the city of Zeist. The recording made on this occasion, Cristina Branco in Holland (1999), was distributed succinctly but her talent immediately spotted.
The second disc, titled Murmurios (2000), received the Shock of the Year in the world music category from the classic magazine Le Monde de la Musique, as did the following, Post-Scriptum (2000). She then accumulates concerts: New York, Lisbon, the Edinburgh Festival or the prestigious Amsterdam Concertgebouw in Holland, precisely, the country which has welcomed her so well. She thus pays tribute to him, through the Dutch poet Jacob Slauerhoff who lived in Portugal, with his disc Cristina Branco Canta Slauerhoff (2001).
For the following two albums, she draws her aspiration from the Portuguese poet David Mourao Ferreira: Corpo Iluminado (2003) and Sensus (2005). Usually accompanied by three guitarists, Cristina Branco now incorporates the piano in her orchestrations. Ullisses (2005) thus follows on from the previous one while she draws a sort of assessment, after ten years of career, with a Live (2007) recorded on the stage of the Leiden theater.
With the Abril record (2008), Cristina Branco delivers her recording without doubt the most personal, despite the tribute paid to the compositions of José “Zéca” Afonso. The reorchestrations, of great expressive richness, awaken this music and thus prove all its modernity. After the release of Kronos (2009), Fado Tango, released in 2011, enriches the singer’s palette with stops in the land of tango or Cuban rhythms.
Cristina Branco is one of the artists who seek more challenge than comfort. For Alegria in April 2013, she thinks outside the box and takes on the features of twelve characters supposed to represent the palette of human emotions. The artist then takes this theatrical vision of the song on a tour of Portugal and the Benelux which are his favorite territories.
2001: Corpo Iluminado