Meet Marta Pereira da Costa, Lisbon’s queen of the Portuguese guitar

Written By Becky Gillespie

Meet Marta Pereira da Costa

Marta Pereira da Costa was born in Lisbon in 1982 and started her musical training with the piano at the age of 4 and studied classical guitar at 8. At 18, she began learning the Portuguese fado guitar under Carlos Gonçalves, Amália Rodrigues’ guitarist. Although she graduated in Civil Engineering and worked in the field for eight years, she left her profession in 2012 to dedicate herself entirely to music.

Photo by MIMO Festival, Flickr

She is recognized as the first woman to professionally play the Portuguese Guitar in fado, blending it with jazz, world, and Portuguese music. This innovation led to her receiving the “Instrumentalist Award” from the Amália Rodrigues Foundation in 2014. In 2016, Marta released her debut album with Warner Music Portugal, featuring contributions from global and Portuguese musicians like Richard Bona, Dulce Pontes, Camané, and Rui Veloso.

Her international performances have taken her across Brazil, the USA, Canada, and Europe, with appearances at venues like Teatro Tivoli, NOS Alive, MIMO Festival, and Lincoln Center.

Marta’s stage presence is captivating, marked by a blend of sensitivity, intensity, and dynamism. Her performances, whether in intimate settings or large outdoor events, are unique and reflect her deep connection with the Portuguese guitar.

New York Music Daily reflected, “In the world of fado, she’s a rarity, as a woman instrumentalist, composer and bandleader.”

Performances and Album

Marta frequently visited Lisbon’s Clube de Fado, learning from masters like Mário Pacheco and Fontes Rocha. She accompanied notable singers such as Cuca Roseta and Rodrigo Costa Félix. Marta also performed with famous artists like Mariza and Carlos do Carmo. She joined Mário Pacheco’s group, contributing to concerts worldwide, especially after their 2005 album, recognized by Songlines magazine.

Pereira da Costa participated in Jaime Roldán’s CD on the track “Pasa.” In 2008, she was a soloist in “Mãe” from her husband Rodrigo Costa Félix’s album. She recorded on Rodrigo’s second CD, “Fados de Amor,” marking the first time in Fado history that a Portuguese Guitar was exclusively played by a woman. Her eponymous solo album debuted in 2016.

Performing Fado on the International Stage

National Public Radio (NPR)’s YouTube channel, which started in 2008 and now has over 8.5 million YouTube subscribers, recently showcased Pereira da Costa on its Tiny Desk Concert series. The Tiny Desk Studio is actually the desk of NPR Music’s All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen, which is located in Washington, D.C., USA, and has featured the likes of Coldplay, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Jacob Collier.

Marta Pereira da Costa’s fingerpicking prowess delights in her Tiny Desk appearance, appearing alongside second guitarist João José Pita Junior and percussionist Pedro Segundo. Her entire performance is a musical journey through Portugal, from land to sea and everything in between. She plays four songs during a nearly 21-minute performance starting with “Terra” all the way through “Dia de Feira.”

You can enjoy her performance below.   

Marta Pereira da Costa’s journey is a testament to innovation in traditional music forms. She has redefined the role of the Portuguese Guitar, creating a new path for the instrument and inspiring future generations of musicians.

To see Pereira da Costa’s upcoming schedule, please check her schedule here and get more information on Facebook.

Fado Tours in Lisbon

If you would like to catch fado in Lisbon, Pereira da Costa’s hometown, there are a number of options to try.

Fado in Chiado offers a daily live traditional fado show. It features a guitar, viola, and two singers. The show lasts under an hour in Chiado, immersing guests in fado’s melancholic vibes. Skip-the-line tickets are available, with drinks extra.

Explore Alfama’s fado roots with a guided tour, including Mouraria. The tour involves a traditional fado house visit and a typical dinner in Alfama. The tour includes a fado show entry and a drink.

Book Live Fado & Alfama Tour with Traditional Dinner

For romance, try a sunset walking tour in Lisbon, ending with a fado show and dinner. Learn about Alfama’s heritage and enjoy ginjinha liquor. Post-sunset, savor a 3-course meal with fado entertainment.

Book Sunset Walking Tour with Fado Dinner

For a unique experience, join a 4-hour walking tour with a fado singer. The tour covers historical streets, public squares, and taverns. Enjoy live fado performances and Portuguese snacks like chourico and caldo verde.

Book a Walking Tour with a Fado Singer

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