Concert Review –
Ramana Vieira Ensemble
Ramana Vieira may not be a household name but she is most definitely a star.
Walking onto the elegant and intimate City Winery stage, she is a commanding yet personable presence. Exuding class, she belted out Portuguese Fado tunes which she explained, is Portuguese blues. And she was smart enough to give a little background on most of the tunes as not everyone in the audience spoke the gorgeous language. Whether they were traditional songs or originals penned by Ms. Vieira, we felt their power. These blues may not have come out of Chicago like the ones I’m accustomed to, but they certainly struck a chord anyway.
It seems many of the songs are about lovers separated, sometimes because the Portuguese sailors had to go out to sea. Although they longed for their men to return, the ladies had faith in the power of their love. Hey, there were no phone calls, faxes, texts or e-mails for sixteenth century separated lovers. So those were some serious blues for sure.
Ms. Vieira clearly felt every one of her numbers and delivered them in a dramatic, and at times almost theatrical style, utilizing shawls and traditional hats and such to tell- and sell- the stories she sang so passionately. Simply put, she held the audience in the palm of her hands, having them repeatedly sing and even hum along.
Backed by a virtuoso ensemble, the instrumentals were as lovely as the vocals and they more than complemented each other.
It was a classy night in a beautiful venue, perfect for my initiation into a form of World Music we don’t hear enough of in these parts. And California based Ramana Vieira making her New York debut was just the vivacious ambassador to do the job.