WOMAD 2009 Featured Artist: Don Rosa And Ensemble
WOMAD 2009 Featured Artist: Don Rosa and Ensemble (Portugal)
Brooklands Park & TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth
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Blind as a consequence of meningitis contracted at the age of four, Dona Rosa has endured great suffering and poverty, which brings a special quality to her evocative Portuguese Fado songs.
Born to a poor family Dona grew up living in one room with seven brothers, she begged in the street until she was nine, when a visually impaired woman found her and took her to a school for the blind. After quitting studies at the age of 15, Dona then spent two years in a nun’s refuge but returned to the streets to sell magazines and lottery tickets. Frequently mugged and robbed she took solace in singing on the street and was heard by an Austrian music producer who invited her to sing at a Moroccan music festival. She was quickly propelled on to the global stage where her mournful music struck a deep chord with audiences. She explains: “Sometimes I sing crying inside, by singing you are able to throw away some of the sadness.”
Dona Rosa embodies the true longing of the soul for authenticity, rooted in a tradition where Fado is its most relevant and famous symbol. Her voice becomes the ideal instrument for the expression of this longing, and as she sings we feel that is indeed possible to stretch ourselves beyond the boundaries of our narrow, logical minds. We are easily moved, recognizing those places within ourselves that are moved and nurtured by her soulful voice. Dona Rosa, in her simple and genuine way, creates the mood so that the "Green Emerald" of our hearts can truly be seen.
Rosa has been living for the past 23 years in a small apartment, south of Lisbon. When she started singing, she lived in various rented rooms, until she heard about a city hall program for homeless and in-need-people, who gave her the opportunity to cherish a place she could call home with low maintenance costs, where she still lives at this present day.
At the present, when she doesn’t have shows to perform, Dona still sings on the streets of Lisbon in order to sell her CDs.
Some of Dona Rosa’s thoughts:
Sometimes I sing crying inside;
A person who sings releases things from the “inner chest” (Portuguese expression), expresses things from within, and by singing he is able to push away solitude;
By singing you’re able to throw some sadness away;
When I was at the nun’s refuge, working at the canteen, I was always singing out loud. And the superior sister was always telling me to stop because I was too loud. I always obeyed and stopped, or sang at a very low volume. After a while I started to sing louder and louder until someone would came to me and say: “You again?? Sing a little bit lower!!”
Sometimes I can’t sing without shedding tears, they run through my eyes without me willing them;
I would love to revisit some places I have been, not as a singer but has a traveller, absorbing things in a different way. Without the pressure, timetables and stress a show can result.
My dream was to become a telephone operator, in order to speak freely (without prejudice) with people. I never thought I could become a real singer;
people ask me where am I going, I answer them: “I’m
going to take a look at the shop windows”. Just because I
often dream about walking in the streets looking at them.