Lula Pena
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Lula Pena

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo World Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"My favourite new singer of these past weeks is Lula Pena."

"A cantora que mais me interessou nas últimas semanas foi Lula Pena. Uma portuguesa de voz grave e violão eletrificado que canta como um poeta". - Caetano Veloso

"The Best World Music of 2010"

2010 proved to be another successful year for Portuguese fado and its derivatives. The fourth album by the brilliant young fadista Ana Moura received international distribution, while the second album by Deolinda was met with only marginally less acclaim than the group’s debut. But the real surprise came with the long-awaited follow-up to singer-guitarist Lula Pena’s classic 1998 album [phados]. Troubadour followed closely in its predecessor’s footsteps, offering up a stark, haunted take on fado that took in Portuguese folk music, French chanson, Latin American nueva canción and Anglo-American pop, all stripped down to the wood. Over seven longish “Acts”, Pena wove fragments from other writers into her own songs, using voice, guitar, and silence to mesmeric effect. Her take on the Amália Rodrigues classic “Fado de Cada Um” is startling, as is the closing number that mixes two distinctly non-fado songs, Eden Ahbez’s “Nature Boy” and Mirah’s “Pollen”. - (Richard Elliott)


Phados (Carbon 7, 1998)
troubadour (Mbari, 2010)



There used to be a recurring thought whenever one spoke and thankfully, one spoke quite a lot about Lula Pena. Where was she and why were we suddenly deprived of hearing new recordings of her music, of her unique way of singing, a way that causes wonder in all that come across it? The reasons are manifold, like tales, and as pure and honest as the music they envelop.

Born and raised in Lisbon, she grew away from the television set, her fathers radio a constant presence. She got used, she says, to sound without the social imagery. She remembers being 10 and having a teacher that would take her students to the far end of the playground, ask them to close their eyes and identify every sound they could hear. At home, her brother played the guitar and they both discovered the humble miracle of polyphony, while tearing through the discography of Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, north-American folk, Beatles or jazz.

That may well have been a significant part of her education even if, to this day, she insists she does not look for anything and instead finds [it] along her path. She didnt idolize or despise anyone or anything; and if, as a child, she ever picked up the guitar to play a song she barely remembered, the possibility was always there to make it hers. She took the lyrics and rearranged them; offered up new words, new metrics, a new melody. She says Tradition must be kept alive so it can become tradition.

Lula Pena plays fado removing its f, assuming, without orthographic drama but with a lot of faith her role as phadista (the title of her first and only album, from 1998, was, precisely, Phados, a wordplay). Immersed in her own, singular, relationship with sound, with history, with memory, we can think about Lula not only as one of great craftswomen of fado, but also as someone who lives it. She sails it to every Mediterranean port, towards the French language so she might add words to speak of love, but also across the Atlantic to Brazil and Central America when the wind carries her that way, uttering the English word when she must.

She took drawing classes then stopped. But there is still some calligraphic precision in every musical note she sketches. On the day she celebrated getting a show in a Barcelona gallery, her house was broken into, all her work robbed. Someone reminded her she still owned a guitar. She played on the streets, left for Brussels where she performed in bars and jazz clubs. She played in Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and to King Mohammed V of Morocco right after the Royal Orchestra, the oud giant Rabih Abhou-Khalil nearby. She performed many miles away from here, her voice the gift of a romantic husband to his wife on her sixtieth birthday.

Many have fallen in love with her music through the years. But she considered giving up her art and the business, to withdraw, refusing public appearances. She says velocity is inhuman and hers is a work that builds inside out trying to figure out human technology. We must be thankful to those who only work like this because they are infinite, serious and lighthearted at the same time. Yes, maybe Lula has been away too long, away from those who understand she is beautiful just the way she is, from those who are more than happy to give her the room she needs to share everything coming out of her in a flow, both serene and everlasting. Those who are free follow their own rules. Those whose hearts are gentle have rules we might do well to trust.

Troubadour is a living organism that gives and receives , where we find a gloriously raw Lula Pena, stripped of limits, given breathing room in composition, in her inimitable rhapsodies, in her overwhelming emotional delivery, in her incomparable voice. She says that, in a record, everything is an attempt in the shape of a song, a coded reading we are forever making of the world around us even if she adds what I hear can never be put into a record.

She looks at a stage differently these days, no longer a source of nervousness, a necessary purge. The huge risk she assumes onstage made her grow into a humble and delicate performer, attuned to her audience. In agreement with the airiness of this Troubadour Pena says she doesnt want to make closed-off records so that anyone who sees her live hasnt the faintest memory; so that each moment and reaction might exist solely in that one occasion.

In her own words she is looking for a Universal tradition. In each street corner lies a divine presence that allows us to reach that scale. And if she questions fado, its in order to feel free and share that freedom, since to her an artist is someone who can expand by imploding himself and the world. If Pena has a goal it might be to turn poetry into the coat of arms of this world. Nothing else No matter which idea of hers first strikes us or where exactly we start to follow her line of reasoning, this is her web of coherence, cast about eve