Primary Instrument: Vocal
Ramana Vieira sings with such a wide range of emotions one cannot help but be mesmerized by images of old world Portugal that emerge from the depths of her soul. Her extraordinary gift of bringing this 15th century style into modern times is her unique trademark. Often referred to as the New Voice of Portuguese World Music, this powerful vocalist is making her mark as one of the premier contemporary Fado artists. According to the Portuguese, Fado is a melancholy and often-mournful music similar to the American blues as it tells stories of heartache and disappointment. The essence of the poetry is the quality of saudade, a word that is difficult to translate as it expresses a myriad of feelings.
Ramana's personal relationship to Fado music lies deep in her family history, as her grandfather was a famous musician and composer from Madeira Island, Portugal. Born in San Leandro, California to Portuguese immigrants, Ramana was fortunate to be exposed to the voices of Portugal's past at a young age. During my childhood, I sang with my mother to Amália Rodgrigues and other fabulous fadistas that were part of her special record collection, said Ramana in a recent interview. Her mother quickly observed her daughter's gift for music and by the age of ten she bought a piano so that Ramana could study classical music.
Her passion for music continued as she matured and eventually she attended The American Conservatory Theatre where she did her vocal training with Faith Winthrop, San Francisco's grande dame of song and one of the most respected singers and vocal coaches on the scene today. Along with singing, Ramana studied drama and dance as well as performing in many theatrical productions. Although she had dreams of a Broadway career her direction shifted abruptly when a famous music producer inspired her to embrace her Portuguese roots. Shortly after that she found herself on an unexpected journey to Portugal where she had the opportunity to perform with the local Fado singers and musicians bringing the house to it's feet with her authentic, yet individual style. It was there I discovered that there was nothing in the world more gratifying to me than singing Fado.
Called a rising star in World Music by the San Francisco Examiner, Ramana has solidified her place as an artist who understands the tradition of Fado singing and continues to creatively construct a path into the future by combining new musical textures and original compositions. Many of the songs on her recordings are inspired by Ramana's main influence, Amalia Rodrigues, known as the Rainha do Fado (Queen of Fado) and who is attributed to popularizing the Fado worldwide. According to Ramana, nobody else is doing what we are doing with Fado. Take the feel and groove of Shakira and the melodic textures of Dulce Pontes and that is how I would describe our music.
Some of the highlights of Ramana's performance career include: opening for Grammy nominated fadista Mariza; performing her original song Unido Para Amar for the 2006 Winter Olympics video montage; making her international debut with RPT TV Portuguese network; and chosen to sing for the Grammy's 50th Awards special Music Cares benefit to honor Aretha Franklin. Her two prior recordings, Despi A Alma (I Undressed My Soul) and Sem Ti helped her to gain recognition, win awards, and appear on the cover of Mundo Portuguese Magazine.
However, Ramana's truly magical spirit comes alive in her newest release on the Pacific Coast Jazz label, Lagrimas De Rainha (Tears Of A Queen). The emotional concept of Lagrimas De Rainha paints sonic pictures that support Ramana's desire to invent a fresh Fado sound blooming from the ground of her own family roots and features an outstanding group of musicians, lyricists, and arrangers such as Marcie Brown (cello), Jeffrey Luiz (classic and electric guitars), Stephen La Porta (drums and percussion), Alberto Ramirez (electric bass), and special guests, Helder Carvallheira (guitarra or Portuguese guitar), Didier Bouvet (guitar), and Golden Reel Award winning film composer and arranger, Robert Randles (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Amadeus).
Ramana sincerely believes that her progressive and unconventional style of juxtaposing different instrumental layers and nuances will open new doors for Fado music while continuing to maintain the integrity of a time-honored tradition. With her incredible artistry and devotion for Fado music there is no doubt this bright-eyed beauty will accomplish her dream.
Ramana Vieira, a rising star in World Music. --San Francisco Examiner
The new voice of Portuguese World music --Antonio Olilveira, Mundo Portuguese
No one in the United States is doing more to breathe new life into Fado than Ramana Vieira, a sultry, dramatic singer. --Andrew Gilbert, San Francisco Chronicle
The tribute to Amalia Rodrigues, Amalia, is a standout track, Vieira pours her soul into the words, letting listeners experience the depth of her admiration for the legendary singer. For those unfamiliar with fado, Tears of A Queen provides an interesting lesson in Portuguese culture. To visit Portugal without leaving home, pick up Vieira's new album and be transported. --Kit O'Toole, Blogcritics.com
If you are a fan of Fado and are looking for something a little unusual, this may just be your album. Vieira’s voice provides the expected warbling, soulful singing and roundness typically expected of a fadista, but the musical arrangements here are what distinguishes this album from a more traditional approach. This album will appeal to those appreciative of Fado’s sentimental, comforting romance, its familiar strains and its immortal tales of love, song and laughter. --Cynthia Foo, MuzikReviews.com
I have had the opportunity to interview and listen to a number of artists in the Portuguese Community. I found by listening to Ramana's album a sense of deepest sympathy towards the Fado its roots and a commitment to keep Fado alive. --Joao Manuel Dias, KSQQ Portuguese Radio
Portuguese Fado music is extremely melodic and beautiful and so are the talents of Ramana Vieira. Her voice and her music are as sincere and beautiful as the language and lands of the Acores. I was mesmerized by her... --Mayor Shelia Young, City of San Leandro
While recent Fado successes have focused on the still, reflective side of the poetrydriven folk style, Ramana Vieira's approach is kinetic and powerful. The singer's stunning rendition of the late Amalia Rodrigues classic Estranha Forma De Vida acknowledges the lineage amidst a stately piano arrangement. --Starbucks Hearmusic.com
She is gifted with a voice that is both breathtaking and intoxicating. --AK Music and Talent