Marisa Monte: The Greatest Brazilian Singer of Her Generation
By Sujany Baleswaran
With over 15 million albums sold worldwide, Marisa Monte is getting ready to release PORTAS – her first solo album in 10 years. Throughout her career, Marisa has won numerous national and international awards, including having two of her albums listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Best Albums of Brazilian Music History”. With a beauty that matches her voice and the creative strength of her music, Marisa is acknowledged to be the greatest Brazilian singer of her generation. With a vast and acclaimed musical versatility, ranging from pop to pop-rock, samba, jazz, and folk, Marisa Monte has creative collaborations with talented names such as Arnaldo Antunes, Nando Reis, Julieta Venegas, David Byrne, Marc Ribot, Devendra Banhart and many others.
You spent your childhood watching your sister play the piano, loved to dance and learnt the drums – music was an integral part of your childhood. Do you remember the first moment that made you want to pursue a career in music?
I’ve always been interested in music, ever since I was a kid, and there was no specific moment when I made a decision to be a singer. Ever since I was a teenager, my friends kept asking me to sing, and they’re still asking me, and I just keep singing. It all happened naturally and too early. But I’ve worked really hard, and I’ve always devoted myself to my profession with a lot of love.
Can you tell us more about your connection with Brazilian music?
The fact that I’m Brazilian and have grown up within this culture, with such diverse and rich music, already connects me organically to Brazilian music. I can’t picture myself in a way that isn’t connected to this young country, with its multiracial culture that’s wide open to the world.
You have a strong interest in the arts and literature. Are you drawn to a type, and how does it influence your music?
I love to discover what’s already been done in art and literature, but I’m also really interested in contemporary production. I’m interested in various styles, and I like to be influenced by other artistic fields besides music and to stimulate dialogues between them.
You have incredible talent as both a composer and a vocal performer. What does your songwriting process look like?
I don’t follow any specific routine, but I always stay tuned to capture new songs. I love working with partners and brainstorming with other artists.
You have a career spanning over 30 years, won numerous awards and collaborated with talented names – what has been the highlight of your music career?
It’s hard to choose a standout moment among so many, but I hope the best will be the next one.
You will be releasing your first album in ten years, PORTAS, and have released the lead single, Calma. Tell us more about this album and how it came about.
I had already been composing most of the songs in recent years, but the recording took place during the pandemic in a process heavily impacted by isolation. Lots of remote recordings, lots of tests, lots of masks, and lots of hope for better days