Born in Covão do Feto.
Lived in Lisbon.
Based in Montreal.
When I came to Montreal, that’s when I started to connect to fado… All of a sudden it wasn’t bad anymore, it was speaking to me. I could understand that sadness [coming out of Amália Rodrigues]. Maybe because I was away from my country – Marta Raposo.
Marta Raposo is one of the most hard-working fado singers and promoters in Montreal, where she settled with her family in 1986. She has performed in multiple community clubs and events, been a resident singer in fado restaurants in Montreal and Lisbon, and was the first fadista to sing in the House of Commons. Marta is also a journalist who has worked with multiple Portuguese media outlets in Montreal.
Marta Raposo was born in 1979, in the small rural town of Covão do Feto, in the region of Ribatejo, in central mainland Portugal. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a homemaker. Growing up, Marta found her love for singing and dancing when she picked up songs from Portuguese TV soap operas, which she watched with her mother. She also became a fan of popular pimba (pop-folk) singers like Jorge Ribeiro, José Malhoa, Roberto Leal, and Quim Barreiros. The first time she heard Amália Rodrigues sing she had a viscerally negative reaction and had to leave the room, because the sadness conveyed by the fado diva conveyed was too powerful.
Around 1986, Marta’s father immigrated to Montreal, alone at first. About a year later, when Marta was eight years-old, she and her mother joined him and settled in Rue Bullion, near the heart of the Portuguese community in the Plateau Mont-Royal. There she was able to speak and remain connected with her language and culture. Her neighbours were Portuguese as were many of the businesses. She also went to church at the Santa Cruz Mission, frequented its Saturday morning Portuguese school, and joined the rancho folclórico (folk dance) Praias de Portugal at Clube de Portugal de Montreal. Marta connected with fado music by listening to the Portuguese programming on Rádio Centre-Ville, where listeners called in with their requests.
One weekend, at the Clube de Portugal, young Marta decided to step up to the microphone, left unattended on stage, and started singing a cappella. The adults in the room took notice and invited her to start singing during the club’s fado nights. She also joined a Portuguese covers band that played at weddings and community events in the local associations. A few years later, she approach fado musicians in Portugal and started doing shows together, which were very well received in the community. She became a resident singer at the Portuguese restaurants Cantinho and Solmar on the weekends. Later on, Marta started receiving invitations from Anglo- and French-Canadians to perform in public and private events, where she educated the audience about the history of fado and incorporated translated versions of classic Portuguese fados.
In 2006, Marta decided to move to Portugal in search of employment as a translator, to experience Lisbon’s fado scene. She became a resident singer at the restaurant O Caldo Verde in the Madragoa neighbourhood and in Jorge Costa’s tertúlia‘s in Fernão Ferro across the river Tagus. Marta also recorded her self-titled first album. During her time in Portugal, she was the subject of a documentary by the Portuguese-Canadian migration scholar João Sardinha titled Regressa Urgente. After four years in Portugal, Marta returned to Montreal to care for her ailing father – her mother had passed away many years prior. In 2020-1, she recorded her second album, Grito, for which she released three music videos in honour of Amália Rodrigues on her centennial anniversary. Her song “Senhora do Xaile Preto” ranked third in the 2021 International Portuguese Music Awards.
Marta’s contributions to promoting fado and Portuguese culture in general in Montreal also included being a spokesperson for and guest artist at the Festival Portugal Internacional in multiple times; the coordinator of the Montreal Fado Mass; organizing the Musique Multi Montréal; performing in the House of Commons in June 2016, on the occasion of the first federal commemoration of Portugal Day; performing with the Portuguese guitar master Custódio Castelo at the Oscar Peterson Hall in 2018; and founding and coordinating the solidarity music project Grito pela Espera, shared on social media in May 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic. The latter brought together dozens of singers and community representatives, including the Minister of Finance of Quebec Carlos Leitão and the Director of Public Health of Quebec Horácio Arruda.
Along with her singing career, Marta is also a certified translator, business administrator, and journalist with Portuguese-language media. She has worked as a reporter for the Correio da Manhã Canadá newspaper, RTPi’s Hora dos Portugueses show, and as radio host at Rádio Centre-Ville.
Hora dos Portugueses
Narrativas de Regresso
© João Sardinha & António Saraiva
Excerpt from the 55-minute documentary Regressa Urgente about fado singer Marta Raposo during her preparations to return to Montreal after living in Lisbon for four years and her reflections on the meaning of home and belonging.
Short description: Cassette tapes
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: Cassette tapes that Marta Raposo brought from Portugal when she immigrated to Canada, including Linda de Suza’s Ama Teu Filho (Carrere, 1984), Nuno da Camara Pereira’s Pode Ser Saudade (EMI, 1985), Cidália & Rodrigo (SPA, date unknown), and Paulo de Carvalho’s Temas da Lua Cheia (CBS, 1987).
Short description: Fado singer’s shawl
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: Fado singer’s black shawl with embroidered scarlet roses, made in northern Portugal, and worn by Marta Raposo when she performs.
Short description: Fado singer’s dress
Description: Two-piece dress consisting of a beige corset and a long black skirt, and a laced black shawl, worn by fado singer Marta Raposo when she performs.
Short description: Miniature classic guitar
Description: Miniature replica of a classic guitar and case gifted to fado singer Marta Raposo.
Short description: Marta Raposo’s notepad
Dimensions: W 12 cm x L 15 cm
Description: Selected pages from Marta Raposo’s notepad, containing lyrics, song keys, musician contacts, dedications, and other notes written.
Click here to flip through the pages of the notepad.
Short description: Friends’ plaque
Creators: Jorge Costa, Miguel Angelo, J. Valverde, Miguel Sousa, Carla Nogueira, Pedro André, A. Farinha
Date: June 2010
Place of origin: Portugal
Description: Plaque with blue velvet case created by Marta Raposo’s friends and gifted to her during a dinner in her hometown of Torres Novas, Portugal. On it is a Portuguese guitar icon and the text (in Portuguese): “To Marta Raposo. Return urgently. From Friends,” followed by her friends’ names and the date June 20, 2010.