On paper, it seems like it would be difficult to take a deeply nuanced and infamously untranslatable concept and make it accessible to a global audience, but Portugal’s MARO and her team have risen to the challenge with her indie ballad 'Saudade, Saudade'.
In Portuguese, the word saudade can best be explained as a sort of longing, wistful nostalgia for something or someone beloved that is no longer with us, leaving us with a blend of “the pain of missing something” and “the joy of having had something worth missing”. It’s a feeling and mood that exists in a lot of Portugal’s traditional music and art, but it’s relatable and relevant wherever you are. MARO wrote Saudade, Saudade while processing the loss of her grandfather.
I think it’s just something intimate, it’s something so personal. It’s about loss, but it’s also celebration. It’s crazy how impactful our grandparents can be, and how it’s a reference to so many values, including unconditional love. Music is what gets us closest to that connection.
Even though saudade as a concept can feel heartbreakingly lonely, MARO is certainly not on her own as she takes the stage here in Turin. She’s surrounded by five talented performers who she’s also fortunate to count as friends. Joining her are Beatriz Fonseca, Beatriz Pessoa and Carolina Leite, who were her backing vocalists at the Portuguese National Final, as well as Diana Castro and Milhanas, who were actually some of MARO’s competition.
I wanted to bring everyone from the Festival da Cancão with me, but I really do have an amazing choir with me. The biggest pleasure about doing music is to share it with other people, especially with friends. If I’m seeing them, it’s a constant reminder that we’re doing this together.
And speaking of friends and collaborators, MARO’s worked with some amazing people throughout her career. After her studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston (which is also the alma mater of Lithuania’s Monika Liu as well as Portugal’s Eurovision-winning songwriter Luisa Sobral), she moved to Los Angeles and found herself collaborating with Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Jacob Collier. Most recently, she’s opened for Canadian musician Charlotte Cardin on her European tour, and just released a single with American electronic duo Odesza.
MARO’s been on a bit of a music-release spree since her National Final win. Her most recent single, we’ve been loving in silence, features a familiar face in the video: her friend, 2017’s Eurovision winner Salvador Sobral. His advice for her was simple:
He told me that Eurovision is just a ‘wow’ moment, and I should just enjoy it!
Nothing more that we can say says it in a better way!
If you enjoy MARO, her classic message, and her modern vibe, be sure to tune in to the First Semi Final on Tuesday 10 May.