Government awards Cultural Merit Medal to Brazilian singer Maria Bethânia

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The Government awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit to Brazilian singer Maria Bethânia, who performed Saturday night in Oeiras, “for the invaluable work she has done in divulging the Portuguese poets,” the Ministry of Culture announced today.

In a statement, Minister Pedro Adão e Silva’s office highlighted that Maria Bethânia has disseminated the Portuguese poets “reciting them, singing them, and contributing in a unique way to their popularization not only in Brazil but in several parts of the world.

Quoted in the note sent to the Lusa agency, Pedro Adão e Silva highlights Maria Bethânia’s “truly luminous idea of making popular artists out of poets.

The ceremony to award the Medal of Cultural Merit, which was presided over by the Minister of Culture, took place Saturday night in Oeiras, at the end of the artist’s concert at the 3rd edition of the Jardins do Marquês festival, whose program includes names such as Michael Bolton, Joss Stone, Liniker, and Sara Correia.

Maria Bethânia presented the show “Fevereiros”, which is based on a documentary by Marcio Debellian about the artist.

The Brazilian singer, who was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, in the state of Bahia, in 1946, moved to Salvador to study, and made her debut there in 1963 in the play “Boca de Ouro”, by Nelson Rodrigues.

The following year he participated in the show “Nós, Por Exemplo”, alongside his brother Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, Gilberto Gil, and Tom Zé, at the opening of the Vila Velha Theater, in Salvador.

“Carcará” is considered the first great success of Maria Bethânia, a singer who acquired national projection, in Brazil, when in January 1965 she replaced Nara Leão – at her invitation – in the historical show “Opinião”, in Rio de Janeiro.

Since her first LP, published in 1965, Bethânia has released dozens of albums, both recorded in studio and live, and has established many partnerships with important names in Brazilian and international music.

In the artist’s biography sent to the lusa by the guardianship, one reads that “like perhaps no other interpreter outside of Portugal, Maria Bethânia has always cultivated a very close relationship with Portuguese poetry, playing an incomparable role in its dissemination.

He has recorded authors such as Sá de Miranda (“Comigo me desavim”, title of one of his shows, 1968), José Régio (“Cântico Negro”, included in the album “Nossos Momentos”, 1982), or Manuel Alegre (“Senhora do Vento Norte”, in the album “Diamante Verdadeiro”, 1998), and dedicated entire albums to Fernando Pessoa (“Imitação da Vida”, 1997) and to Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen (“Mar de Sophia”, 2006).

The Federal University of Bahia awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in 2016 for his contribution to Brazilian Popular Music.

That same year, the Mangueira samba school paid her homage with the theme “Maria Bethânia: the Girl with the Eyes of Oiá”.

In Portugal, the President of the Republic bestowed upon her the rank of Officer of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, on November 26, 1987, and ten years later, on August 18, 1997, she received the rank of Commander of the same Order.

The Lisbon City Council also distinguished her with the Medal of Municipal Merit, on June 07, 2011.

The artist also received, in March 2010, the medal of the Order of Disquiet, a tribute from Casa Fernando Pessoa for her role in disseminating the work of the Portuguese poet.

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