BIOGRAPHY

© Gal Oppido

Fortuna, a Brazilian singer-songwriter of Jewish origin, has a musical background of over 30 years, primarily marked by her Middle Eastern roots (Judaic and Arabic) and Jews in Spain and Portugal (Sephardi). As a World Music researcher, her music bridges across multiple religions and cultures from around the world.

Her research led to a new light to her musical trajectory. Fortuna recorded eight albums independently: La Prima Vez, Cantigas, Mediterrâneo, Mazal, Cælestia, Encontros, Novo Mundo and Novos Mares. These internationally distributed albums have earned the artist critical acclaim and prominent awards. Mediterrâneo was the winner of the 10th Sharp Music Award for best foreign-language album, and the American label Putumayo, which specializes in World Music collections, has included five songs recorded by Fortuna in their collections: Women of Spirit (1998), Romantica (1998), A Jewish Odyssey (2000), Dreamland (2003) e Tango Around The World (2007).

Novos Mares, released in 2016 by the Selo SESC record label, brought with it many innovations in relation to her prior work. It included the highest number of self-composed titles of all her releases to that point, as Fortuna wrote of five of the thirteen songs in the album repertoire. It traced the course of Eastern Jews who left Aleppo (Syria), and the Middle East in general, singing themes in Arabic, Hebrew, and French, before finally reaching Brazil, with the original song Branca Dias, a tribute to New Christians (Anussim) and Crypto-Judaism, a theme commonly addressed by contemporary historians.

In Mares da Memória – recently presented in Portugal at the MIMO Festival 2019 (Amarante) –, Fortuna introduced Sopra o Vento (by Fernando Pessoa/Jardel Caetano), as well as all the musical diversity rooted in the Ladino songbook.

In 2018, Fortuna wrote the score and music for the theatrical play Amor Profano, which starred Vivianne Pasmanter and Marcello Airoldi. The script, itself quite controversial, was written by the Israeli Motti Lerner.

Her radio program Todos os Cantos (From Every Corner) – first aired by Radio Eldorado FM, then by Radio UOL – ran for 12 years, unearthing musical gems from all over the globe. Cultura FM Radio would eventually broadcast the Fortuna-hosted show for over seven years.

Besides the radio programs, she also produced and hosted the Todos os Cantos Podcast from 2020 to 2021, on all streaming platforms and on youtube, bringing musical diversity from Brazil and around the world.

As an actress, Fortuna took part in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, directed by the award-winning Iacov Hilel. The show’s success, which is also geared towards children and teenagers, awakened in the artist the desire to focus her attention on music for children.

Thus, new projects were born.

In November 2008, the singer released, in a production by the Selo SESC record label, the album, DVD and live show named Na Casa da Ruth (At Ruths Place). The repertoire included poems by writer Ruth Rocha and music by Hélio Ziskind. The live performance was directed by Naum Alves de Souza, and was seen by over 20 thousand viewers over its four-year run.

In October 2012, Fortuna released the album Tic Tic Tati, with poems and stories by writer Tatiana Belinky, and music also written by Hélio Ziskind. Yet another Selo SESC production, it was nominated in 2013 for the 24th Brazilian Music Award in the Children’s Album and Visual Project categories. The musical, envisioned for an album release, was directed by Roberto Lage and also enjoyed great public and critical success. The live performance was recorded and released in DVD format, including three bonus animations directed by filmmaker Tata Amaral.

The Tic Tic Tati DVD was released in 2014 and won the State Governor Award in the “Art for Children” category by popular vote that same year.

In 2017, following the successful partnership with Hélio Ziskind, Fortuna released under Selo SESC, her third children’s music album: Tchiribim Tchiribom – Cantando pelo Mundo (Tchiribim Tchiribom – Singing around the World). It featured a journey through the musical traditions of peoples and regions from around the world, such as China, Israel, Africa, Italy, Mexico, and New Zealand. Another partnership resulting from this project was one with the Grand Bazaar group and their Gypsy and Balkan songs. They participated in the recording of the album, co-creating arrangements, and performing on all tracks. The musical – created for the album release – was once again directed by Roberto Lage, and featured Fortuna as a “singer of stories”. Fortuna continued her traditional work of presenting world songs, bringing this universe of peoples and cultures in a fun way for children.

Fortuna recently released the album Sacred Memories (May 2021). Listeners can enjoy two key traits of Fortuna’s trajectory, with the coming together of modern music and themes of ancestral memory, in a blend of strands that have marked her career of over thirty years. Its repertoire reminisces on some of Fortuna’s old partnerships, such as A Lua no Cinema, with the poet Paulo Leminski in the 80’s. There are also new songs, such as Sopra o Vento, which is a poem by Fernando Pessoa, music by Jardel Caetano, as well as Para Além do Céu, by Paulo Tatit and Filipe Edmo.

Staying true to her musical memory and intuition, the artist has also dedicated herself to exploring other songwriters in a singular fashion. Thus was the Acalantos project born. An EP with five of Caetano Veloso’s songs, sang as lullabies: Cajuina, Canto do Povo de um Lugar, Oração ao Tempo, O Leãozinho and Alguém Cantando. The concept for Acalantos emerged during a lockdown phase, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which interrupted all her scheduled shows. As most artists did, the singer found in online projects a way of still producing music. As such, she worked remotely, composing tracks, creating content for podcasts, not to mention performing in live streams.

Still for the Children’s Music segment, she was invited to sing in a series called Bia e Nino – Canções de Ninar (Bia and Nino – Lullabies), performing traditional music from Brazilian culture, for the label MCD.

For the Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Museum of Portuguese Language), she created an accompanying track for the temporary display Sonhei em Português (I Dreamt in Portuguese), made up of the sounds and languages of the different peoples that live in São Paulo.

She also developed a track for the Holocaust Memorial, in Curitiba city, Parana (2021).

Invited by the São Paulo City Hall, she made her debut performance at the Christmas Festival (December 2021), along with the singer Assucena. The brand-new show, named Transcendência, mixes modern music with others that call back to both singers’ Jewish past.

Since 2020, she has performed the chazanut (liturgical music) for several Jewish religious entities, such as the CJB – Brazilian Jewish Congregation – (along with Rabbis Nilton Bonder and Dario Bialer), Bethel (Rabbi Uri Lam) and Kahal Tzur Israel, the first synagogue in the Americas, in Recife, Pernambuco.

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