Singer-songwriter MARISA MONTE, one of Brazil’s most adventurous and internationally acclaimed stars for over thirty years, is returning to the stage with a vengeance. In March 2022, Monte launches a ten-city U.S. tour—the largest of her career thus far. Her new show is based on her twelfth album, Portas (Doors), released digitally worldwide in July on her own label Phonomotor and distributed by Sony Music; to date it has amassed well over thirty million streaming plays. For the U.S. tour, a limited-edition run of the physical CD will be sold exclusively at concert venues.
Monte’s voice has the lilt and delicacy of bossa nova, but her singing, like her songwriting, is driven by a fierce intelligence, a curiosity about the human condition, and a passion for risks. She has collaborated with a wide array of vanguard artists, including Seu Jorge, David Byrne, Philip Glass, Caetano Veloso, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Arto Lindsay, John Zorn, and Laurie Anderson. Recently Sony Music also released the single “Vento Sardo” (Sardinian Wind), written and sung by Monte and Jorge Drexler, the Oscar-winning Uruguayan singer-songwriter. They composed the song while riding together on a sailboat in Sardinia. Sung in Spanish and Portuguese, it talks about “the flow of life,” Monte says, “and how things are always in a dynamic movement, changing all the time.”
On October 22, Monte was in Sanremo, Italy to collect the prestigious Tenco Award for lifetime achievement in songwriting. Past recipients include Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Tom Waits, and several icons of Brazil (Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Chico Buarque, and Vinicius de Moraes); Monte is her country’s first female honoree. “I’m glad to represent all my Brazilian sisters,” she says, “and to be opening doors for them outside Brazil. Female singers before my generation didn’t compose as much as now; it’s an interesting change in the way women occupy space on the musical scenery in Brazil, and it reflects our presence in society as well.”
Her newest album sprang out of the seemingly barren confinement imposed by the pandemic. While staying at home in Rio with her husband, son, and daughter, Monte planned Portas, an album filled with soft, comforting sounds and messages of hope. “I wanted to offer something that could heal and help people to cross this moment, to not be that depressed and sad,” she says. Of the sensual title track, Monte explains: “Doors are very symbolic elements; they talk about opportunities, changes, transformations, so I wanted to offer a sense of passage.”
In November 2020, when COVID restrictions began to ease, she started recording with her musicians in the studio, using full safety precautions. Musicians from New York, Spain, and Portugal made guest contributions through Zoom. Videos were shot for all the songs—“small musical documentaries that show the process of recording,” says Monte, “but also the garden, the sea, the sky, everything that was outside during the confinement, when we all had very limited physical space in which to live.”
Until then Monte had been surrounded by the boundless splendors of Rio, where she was born on July 1, 1967. Her father was an engineer who also worked with the Portela samba school; he helped ignite her passion for music. It quickly spread in all directions: She learned to play piano and drums, sang in a school production of The Rocky Horror Show, then moved to Rome in her teens to study opera, then began singing Brazilian songs in Italian bars.
Nelson Motta, a journalist and music producer from Rio, saw Monte and sensed her potential; after she had moved home he helped create her first show, Veludo Azul (Blue Velvet). It caused such excitement that the Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles (Central Station, The Motorcycle Diaries) directed a version for TV. Motta produced Monte’s first album, Marisa Monte, for EMI. It stamped her as a fearless explorer of worldwide pop, ranging from “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” to traditional samba, samba-funk, and Brazilian rock to the Gershwins’ “Bess, You Is My Woman.” Monte’s record sold a half-million copies.
In the followup, Mais (More), she partnered for the first time with Arto Lindsay, the iconoclastic American musician and producer. Mais established her as a songwriter as well as a magnet for other experimental artists. Monte wrote a number of songs with Nando Reis and Arnaldo Antunes, from the Brazilian rock band Titãs. She was also joined by Ryuichi Sakamoto, the Oscar- and GRAMMY-winning electronic-music composer and another acclaimed adventurer, guitarist Marc Ribot.
Ever since then, Monte has been showered in recognition. Her 2000 album, Memórias, Crônicas e Declarações de Amor (Memories, Chronicles, and Statements of Love), included “Amor I Love You,” Brazil’s biggest song of the year. The video won Monte one of her seven MTV Video Music Awards. Two years later came the first album by Tribalistas, a celebrated trio consisting of Monte, Antunes, and Carlinhos Brown, the charismatic singing star and social activist from Bahia. The subject of her double-platinum-selling album of 2006, Universo ao Meu Redor (Universe Around Me), is samba. It earned the singer one of her four Latin GRAMMYs.
On her tour, she will lead a band filled with some of Brazil’s most sought-after musicians: bassist Dadi, guitarists Chico Brown (co-writer of several tracks on Portas and the son of Carlinhos Brown) and Davi Moraes; percussionist Pretinho da Serrinha; drummer Pupillo, and a brass section featuring Eduardo Santanna (trumpet, flugelhorn), Antonio Neves (trombone) and Lessa (flute, sax).
“I’m super-happy to come back to the road,” says Monte. “I’ve never spent so much time without singing live. I’m very glad to have the opportunity to go to the United States and sing in many cities where I’ve never performed. It’s nice for me after 35 years to have this chance.”
MARISA MONTE “Portas” U.S. Tour
Tickets on Sale Now
Mar 4 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Mar 6 Atlanta, GA The Buckhead Theatre
Mar 10 N. Bethesda, MD Strathmore
Mar 12 Minneapolis, MN State Theatre
Mar 15 Chicago, IL The Vic
Mar 17 Stamford, CT The Palace Theatre
Mar 19 & 20 Boston, MA Berklee Perf. Ctr 2nd show added!
Mar 22 & 23 New York, NY The Town Hall 2nd show aded!
Mar 25 Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre
Mar 27 Los Angeles, CA Royce Hall