The world of the Portuguese fadista Cristina Branco seemed rosy, she recorded albums on albums for Universal, the world-musically interested community lay at her feet – a dazzling figure with a bell-bright voice that fulfilled all expectations. But there was more to the woman than fado romance, concert robes and a diva image. 2006 was the year of her alter ego “EVA”. Eva saw the light of day because Cristina was struggling with the question of all questions. “What is freedom?”
All desires, thoughts, dreams were projected into EVA and the projection helped the artist to break away from the perfectionism of the music industry and to go her own way. With the first two albums “Menina” (o-tone/Edel) and “Branco” (o-tone/Edel) she said goodbye to the major label, the musical expectations of Central European Portugal lovers, over-Photoshop from 2016 after a long struggle. She had all the songs written and composed on the albums planned as a trilogy by lusophone artists. Indie, pop, punk, rap, jazz musicians, a literature Nobel laureate, stars and asterisks: the range of people she has brought on board alone shows the immense courage to let go.
The potpourri is held together by her and her trio, consisting of Portuguese guitar, piano and double bass, which have accompanied her ever since. Cristina Branco, Bernardo Couto, Lus Figueiredo and Bernardo Moreira have grown close together on the common path: similar to EVA, the men at Branco’s side got more leeway. Figueiredo is responsible for several of their songs together, all songs are arranged together in the rehearsal room. Electronic and percussive elements, polyphonic background songs, the fun of improvisation by jazz musicians gained space and made the music more unique, while the art figure Cristina Branco faded into the background. EVA conquered her space – the protagonist gained more and more integrity. The songs on the album of the same name, which concludes the trilogy, therefore deal with the themes, Who am I, Who I want to be. How can I be free? Eve is brought to life, expectations are stripped away. The inside is turned outwards, allowing vulnerability – integrity sometimes hurts. But she is first and foremost liberating and you can hear all that from Cristina Branco, aka EVA.
Cristina Branco is one of the most important Portuguese artists of recent decades, with a total of 17 albums released and countless concerts all over the world. Her most recent work, Eva (2020) has won over the public and critics alike and confirmed Cristina as one of the most versatile performers on the Portuguese music scene.
She began her career in Holland, with the album Cristina Branco in Holland (1997), which became a huge success in that country. In the following years, Cristina’s name exploded throughout Europe, with sold-out dates in countless venues and cities. Her following works, Murmúrios (1998) and Post-Scriptum (2000) reinforced the success of her first album, and Cristina was awarded two Prix Choc, the prestigious prizes given by the French magazine Le Monde de La Musique.
Despite her accomplishments abroad, it was only at the turn of the millennium, with Corpo Iluminado (2001), O Descobridor (2002), a double-platinum album, Sensus (2003), and Ulisses (2005), that Cristina Branco finally began to be discovered and acclaimed by the Portuguese public and press. Comparisons with Amália Rodrigues were recurrent and inevitable.
This was followed by Abril (2007), an album with cover versions of songs by José Afonso, Kronos (2009) and Fado Tango (2011), her tenth studio album, which features collaborations with renowned authors and composers such as Mário Laginha, Carlos Tê, and Pedro da Silva Martins. The album shows the first signs that Cristina’s music could have another guise and foreshadows Cristina’s artistic rebirth that would arrive a few years later with Menina.
Considered Best Record of the Year by Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores (SPA), Menina (2016), is the first chapter of a trilogy that includes the jovial and kaleidoscopic Branco (2018) and Eva (2020). In these works, Cristina brings together unusual collaborations, which cross styles, genres, cultures, and geographies. The result is an innovative and spontaneous interpretation of the traditional musical expression of Fado.
Eva, the most recent of the three, is an unpredictable record, rich in filigree and details that reveal Cristina’s intimacy and human depth. The album emerges in the form of a question: “what is freedom for me?”. We find the answer in the diary of Eva Haussman, an alter-ego of the singer. Eva personifies the freedom that Cristina pursues. Through the delicate firmness of Cristina Branco’s voice, we open the doors to this which is Cristina’s most personal and intimate work to date.
Today, on the verge of celebrating 25 years of career, Cristina Branco shows herself exactly as she is, a true, free and genuine woman. Fado will always be present. Cristina brings it in her senses.
” Cristina Branco proves on her new album that the fado pigeonhole is too small for her.” Südwestrundfunk 2
“CD of the week – For a long time Cristina Branco has been more than “just an insider tip”.” Saarländischer Rundfunk 2
“Who am I, who do I want to be, how can I be free? Here she projects wishes and dreams and moves between fado, chanson, folk and pop.” hessischer Rundfunk 2
“Cristina Branco leads the fado of Portugal to new sounds.” Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk Kultur
“Eva is pure, straightforward and lets you look directly into her soul.” Jazzthetik
“[…] her voice is pure and versatile, and yet one is quite quickly with her with the whole ear.” Jazz Podium
“She likes to sail confidently over the folkloric horizon with her clear, warm voice.” Mindelheimer Zeitung
“Branco’s tone has long been different – one that veered off in the direction of highly personal, increasingly autobiographical songwriting. And with “Eva” has now reached its peak.” Badische Zeitung
” (…) a coherent, beautiful-sounding and wonderfully calm production, naturally held together by Cristina Branco’s touching vocals. (…) sometimes quietly tentative, then again – supported by electronics and percussion – wildly forward storming.” – Münchner Merkur
“Touching and intense […]” Kurier
Cristina Branco is increasingly becoming synonymous with sophistication, innovation and tradition.
The notorious recognition was reflected in the prize awarded by the Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores in 2017 for Best Album referring to the album “Menina”, as well as the nomination for Globos de Ouro in the category of Best Individual Interpreter. Shows throughout Europe indicate that the designation “fado-jazz” has been gaining more and more meaning.
Refined repertoire, current poets and lyricists, expert instrumentalists alongside with Cristina’s distinct voice make the artist one of the most important personalities of Portuguese music of recent times.
2018 is the year of “Branco”, the new album with a tour scheduled for all Europe.