Name: Maria Isabel
Nickname: Cuca
Age: 36
Qualifications: Degree in Psychology, Post-graduation in Marketing
Current job: artist
Passions: yoga, taekwondo, painting
Favourite book: i Ching
When i was younger, I wanted to be: a ballerina
Greatest life objective: to be happy
What keeps me going: being at peace and feeling grateful
Social projects supporting: Thirst Project Portugal, Novo Futuro

1   Cuca, tell us how your relationship with Fado began. I usually say that it was love at first sight, when I first heard it live, I decided that I never wanted to stop hearing it, and later started singing it. Fado was my destiny and soon I realized that life was asking me to follow it. A path that was indeed my passion, but I never thought I could live from it. It has been the best surprise life has given me.

2    When did you feel that you had to stop and totally devote yourself to Fado?
That process wasn’t easy… I had just graduated in Psychology, with a post-graduate degree in Marketing, I was ready to start working with and thought both might be compatible. But when Gustavo Santaolalla appeared in my life, my concerts abroad started to crop up, and I never stopped singing. I think that at that moment, life took me away from Psychology and made the decision for me. I have never stopped singing until now, I keep having more work, to the point of not being able to turn back round. And how well things turned out! It is great to have such a gift and being able to share it with others, bringing beauty, joy and nostalgia to those who feel it.

3  Does the so-called “soul of Fado” exist in your opinion?
There’s the soul and there’s the technique. To be a Fado singer, you need both. The technique isn’t easy, the trills… “not just anyone can be a Fado singer, you have to be born one…” as one Fado says. The soul refers to everything the Fado singer does, the soul in a figurative sense. The “soul of Fado” refers to this predisposition of reclaiming a life once lived, life experience that happened with the same strength and intention with which we lived it. Spending time talking about feelings, feeling passion for them, looking at the emotional and sentimental side of life, being a born romantic, and being a sensitive person. This is all part of having a “soul of Fado”.

4  Do you consider yourself a traditional Fado singer or part of this new Fado generation?
The new Fado generation also sings traditional Fado, but I’m neither traditional nor from the new generation that mostly sings it. I love traditional Fado, one of my favourite artists is Camané, but in fact, I followed in the steps of Amália who brought to Fado what’s known as “Fado Song”. I am more linked to this side of Fado from Amália, it inspires me. My voice also fits better with this more melodic kind of Fado.

Live one day at a time and being grateful for what we have.

5  Luz is your 4th album, what are the differences between Cuca now and the Fado singer you were when you started your career?
With the experience and maturity I’ve gained, each album is a step forward. People can’t imagine the world of teachings that exist in the art of singing. From the first to the last album, there are a lot of details that make all the difference… it is that detail that makes the difference in the song. The intention that was given too much and that ruined everything, or a note that was given too little that could have made a difference. For me these small differences have been very clear over the years and I continue to discover many other details that I want to improve. Fado is very transparent. It takes a great balance to get good energy and that’s why I argue that fado grows side by side with life.

6  We know how much you value your family and the time you spend with them. What is it like to be a mother with such a busy life?
It’s rather simple, I must assess my priorities well. It’s a question of knowing what to give up, of transmitting tranquillity to our children and knowing how to relish what life gives us. Instead of stressing about the day-to day haste, we need to get on the train of life with peace of mind and gratitude. The rest will come naturally, and everything will fit in smoothly. Being a mother is the best gift life has given me. Being with my children and watching them grow up. Fulfilling this role is my ultimate passion!

7  Have you ever considered taking a break from your career?
No, never. I haven’t had a vacation in 8 years, and I get what life gives me. I accept it and I’m grateful. I know that someday, I’ll have more time to rest. But I must put my gift to practice, or else I wouldn’t have the amount of work I have. Everything happens for a reason.

8  You’ve been a Guess ambassador for a few years now, and more recently, for the jewellery brand TASHI, what binds you to these brands?
These are brands that I genuinely like. There is truth, there is a certainty that they reflect my persona. I don’t have to work hard to use them joyfully, to feel good and complete!

9  We know that you’re recording a Christmas album, can you tell us about it?
It’s a dream I have had since I was a child and I’ve managed to fulfil it at 36! When I first heard it, I cried an hour of emotion, this album has a lot of me. It’s almost out!

10  What is your biggest goal when singing or composing?
I think the reason for the inspiration is to bring it all out. The artist needs to bring it out, whether when painting, writing or composing. It’s as though a desire rises in one’s chest and suddenly one must write or compose at that very moment. It’s usually good not to miss such a moment… that’s when the best things come about.

11  Did you ever think that at present you would be exactly as you are?
I’ve never thought about the future, I always lived one day at a time. I don’t make big plans; my life dreams have been fulfilled: finding my love and singing. I don’t know how long I will last on this earth, so each day should be lived to the fullest, one day at a time. When we project many things into the future, things we don’t even know if we are going to experience, we end up dropping a lot of what is currently happening… although this, the moment when lived in full, can bring us a better future. We need to grab life, live one day at a time and be grateful for what we have. That’s the secret to happiness!