"When they make my story and I am no longer alive to tell them how it was, then they will be fed up with inventing. Even spoken by me, a lot of people will say it is not true, that the rumours are the truth. A person is the owner of herself. If that were the truth, I would not mind that they talk. What bugs me is the lie. But I know that my story will be the one that they choose, the one that is the most interesting, the one that is not mine.”
1920 – Daughter of Albertino de Jesus Rodrigues and Lucinda Piedade Rebordão, she is born Amália da Piedade Rodrigues, on the 23rd of July, at Rua Martim Vaz, nr. 86, in Lisbon.
1922 – The parents return to Fundão leaving Amália to the charge of the maternal grandparents in Lisbon.
1929 – Starts studying at the Official School of Tapada de Ajuda, where she completes the primary school. In childhood, despite her shyness, she enjoys singing to the neighbours and at school events she attends.
1931-34 – Works as an embroiderer, ironer, and in cakes factories in Pampulha (Lisbon).
1934 – With the return of the parents to the capital (Lisbon), she starts to live with them, two brothers and two sisters.
1935 – Lives in the neighbourhood of Alcântara (Lisbon) and becomes a soloist of its march, singing by squares and fairs. She starts selling fruit on Cais da Rocha along with her sister Celeste Rodrigues and her mother.
1938 – In representation of Alcântara, she enters in the contest “Queen of Fado of the Neighbourhoods”, which ends up giving up. She is presented, at that time, as Amália Rebordão. It is in this contest that she meets Francisco da Cruz, a mechanical Turner, and amateur guitarist, with whom she comes to marry in 1940. The marriage only lasts two years.
1939 – Acts in recreational society parties in an amateur way. She debuts in July as a professional fado singer at Retiro da Severa (fado house in Lisbon), becoming a poster head in early October.
1940 – Acts in several fado houses, where she invents the fado singer dressed entirely in black. By the influence of José de Melo, she starts singing at Café Luso and Solar da Alegria (fado houses in Lisbon), becoming the highest-paid fado singer in the country. She debuts in the theatre with the revista (sort of vaudeville theatre) Ora vai tu.
1941 – She is the main attraction in the revista Espera de Toiros.
1942 – In the theatre, she meets one of her main composers, Frederico Valério, the first to write for herself with the understanding of the multiplicity of her voice. Acts in the revistas Essa é que é essa and Boa Nova.
1943 – Performs for the first time outside of Portugal, in Madrid, invited by the ambassador of Portugal, Dr. Pedro Teotónio Pereira. In this visit, Amália discovers her passion for flamenco and for the Spanish culture. In theatre, she enters in the revista Alerta está.
1944 – Enters in the revista Rosa Cantadeira. Visits Brazil where she performs in Casino Copacabana, in Teatro João Caetano and Rádio Globo. For four months, she performs in Casino Copacabana with the show Numa Aldeia Portuguesa, conceived only for her.
1945 – In Portugal, she continues to perform sporadically in the fado house Café Luso. Records the first LPs of her career in Brazil. Does a 10-month show season in Brazil where she performs in Teatro República and Casino Copacabana with the Companhia de Revistas Amália Rodrigues.
1946 – She is the main attraction in the revista Estás na Lua and protagonist in the operetta Ai, Mouraria.
1947 – Amália is the protagonist in the films Capas Negras and Fado, História de uma Cantadeira. In Madrid, she enters in 10 short films where she sings traditional fados that will be streamed in the beginning of movie seasons in Portugal. Amália is the main attraction in the revista Se aquilo que a gente sente.
1948 – Performs in France and in Spain. In Portugal, she continues to perform in Café Luso, on the radio, and in Casinos.
1949 – Receives the award of “Best Actress in Cinema” for her performance in the film Fado, História de uma Cantadeira. In this year, Amália is also the protagonist in the film Vendaval Maravilhoso and is invited to sing in the film Sol e Toiros. Performs in London, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo, keeping her regular performances in the fado house Café Luso, in Lisbon.
1950 – Takes part in the series of shows sponsored by the Marshall Plan in the cities of Berlin, Rome, Trieste, Dublin, Bern, and Paris. Performs in the radio program O comboio das Seis e Meia. Initiates her collaboration with the poets Pedro Homem de Mello, Luís de Macedo e David Mourão-Ferreira. Interprets “Foi Deus”, Alberto Janes’ work purposefully done for her voice. In Lisbon, she keeps on performing in Café Luso and Casino Estoril.
1951 – Performs in Mozambique, Belgium Congo, Angola, San Sebastian, and Biarritz. She records, in the music publisher Melodia, eight fados by Frederico Valério, accompanied by the maestro and his orchestra.
1952 – For four months performs in the nightclub La Vie en Rose, in New York. Performs in Bern, Geneva, and Lausanne. In the Abbey Road Studios, in London, begins her collaboration with Valentim de Carvalho publisher where she records popular marches, fados, and Spanish and Brazilian songs.
“I went abroad with a guitar and a fado guitar, and I made an international career. It was not my Portuguese, nor my lack of spectacle. It was my authenticity that won.”
1953 – Performs in Ciudad del Mexico and in Madrid. Returns to New York where she is invited to “The Eddie Fisher Show”, being the first Portuguese presentation in the world television.
1954 – For 2 months, she performs in the nightclub Mocambo, in Hollywood, with the orchestra of Paul Herbert. She does a large season of shows in Mexico where she sings traditional “Rancheras”.
1955 – Buys the house in Street of São Bento, her home until her death and current address for the Amália Rodrigues Foundation/House-Museum. She enters in the French film Les Amants du Tage, singing “Barco Negro”, performing also in the films April in Portugal (England) and Músicas de Siempre (Mexico). Invited by Vasco Morgado she is the protagonist of the play A Severa. She performs in Spain, Brazil, and Mexico.
1956 – Invited by Bruno Coquatrix and thanks to the international success of “Barco Negro”, performs in the biggest showroom at the time, the Olympia in Paris, doing 2 consecutive seasons of shows. She performs in Belgium, Argelia, Mexico, Brazil, and in the Louvre Palace for the show La Nuit des Ambassades.
1957 – Sings in Côte d’Azur, Belgium, Algeria, Rio de Janeiro, Ciudad del Mexico, Stockholm, Lausanne, and Caracas. Amália à L’Olympia is released, disclosed worldwide, becoming her most famous live album. Performs in France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela. Participates in the Mexican film Las Canciones Unidas.
1958 – Under the direction of Augusto Fraga she is the main attraction, by the side of the Turner Diamantino, in the first coloured Portuguese film Sangue Toureiro. Next to Varela Silva she is the protagonist to the television play O Céu da minha Rua, directed by Fernando Frazão and streamed by RTP (the Portuguese national public television). Performs in Rio de Janeiro, Brussels, Sweden, and Denmark. Receives, by the hand of Marcelo Caetano (Prime Minister of the Portuguese Democratic Republic), the Military Order of Santiago de Espada, knighthood, at the Universal Exhibition of Brussels. Starts recording for the Ducretet-Thomson publisher.
1959 – Sings “Estranha Forma de Vida”, her own poem which she asks to her brother-in-law, Varela Silva, to sign in the SPA (Society of Portuguese Authors). Performs in France, Rio de Janeiro, and Tel Aviv. She receives the Medal of Honour of the City of Paris.
1960 – Performs in Madrid, Greece, Belgium, and Tunisia, returning to Paris for a new season of shows in Olympia and in the nightclub Bobino. The album Amália à Bobino, where she sings Portuguese, Spanish, Brazilian and French songs, is released.
1961 – She marries César Seabra in Rio de Janeiro, threatening to put an end to her artistic career. Performs not regularly in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and in the Portuguese public television.
1962 – Comes back to Portugal definitely. Performs in Madrid, Angola, Edinburgh, and Paris, especially in the nightclub La tête de l’art. She starts her collaboration with Alain Oulman, recording the album Busto, again for the publisher Valentim de Carvalho. It is from the work with Alain that her career gets a big new turn, starting to sing the greatest poets of the Portuguese literature.
1963 – Performs in Beirut, in the San Francis Church, for the Mass celebrating Lebanon’s Independence. The album For your Delight is published. Performs in Paris and in the nightclub Savoy in London.
1964 – Enters in the Portuguese film Fado Corrido with argumentation and direction by Jorge Brum do Canto. Performs in Rome, Biarritz, Taormina, Monte Carlo, Ciudad Del Mexico, Belgium, Italy, and Paris.
“I just can’t if they come to tell me: « Honestly, Amália, the “Cochicho”; honestly, the “É ou não é”. That is not for you! ». And then, maybe the same people will say: «Honestly, Amália, Alain; honestly, Camões! ». I have always seen that people have no criteria. I’m the one who knows what is for me, and the public has always followed me.”
1965 – Shoots As Ilhas Encantadas, directed by Carlos Vilardebó, for which she receives the award for Best Actress by the SNI (National Secretary of Information). Releases the LPs Amália canta Luís de Camões and Fado Português where she sings poems by José Régio, Luís de Macedo, Pedro Homem de Mello, Alexandre O’Neill, all with music by Alain Oulman. Performs in France, Spain, Belgium, and Holland. Takes part in the gala L’union des Artistes where she plays with a little elephant in the Cirque d’Hiver.
1966 – Invited by Andre Kostelanetz, she performs with his symphonic orchestra at Lincoln Center of New York and, after that, at the Hollywood Bowl of Los Angeles. Amália is jury head in the Popular Song Festival in Rio de Janeiro. Performs in the French film Via Macau where she sings “Le Premier Jour Du Monde”. Performs in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Netanya, Paris, Johannesburg, Mozambique, and Angola. Receives the Pozal Domingues Award for the LP Fandangueiro.
1967 – Performs in Cannes Festival where she receives the M.I.D.E.M award for the artist who sells the most in her country, something that will be repeated in the years to come, an achievement only equalled by The Beatles. The album Fados 67 is released with reinterpretations of her great past hits. Due to her recognition in France, it is elaborated the Olympiades du Music-Hall dedicated to Portugal, where Amália invites Portuguese artists to perform in Paris with her.
1968 – Stars in the play Sapateira Prodigiosa for RTP, directed by Fernando Frazão. It is released the LP Vou dar de beber à dor, absolute best seller in Portugal until nowadays, with translated versions for France, Italy, and Spain. Performs in Madrid, Brasov, New York, and Montreal. The Spanish State gives her the distinction Order of Isabel the Catholic, Lazo de Dama. Records in the saloon of her home the LP with Vinicius de Moraes, where poets like David Mourão-Ferreira, Natália Correia, and Ary dos Santos also figure as diseurs.
1969 – Does a long tour in URSS, performing in Leningrad, Moscow, Tiflis, Erivan, and Baku. Performs in Athens, Cannes (M.I.D.E.M awards), Mozambique, Rhodesia, South Africa, and New York. The LP Marchas Populares is released, with original and traditional marches. Performs in the Marais Festival in Paris as the guest of honour.
1970 – Performs for the first time in Japan, in Expo 70. Her masterpiece Com que Voz is released, LP where she sings Camões, Cecília Meireles, Manuel Alegre, David Mourão-Ferreira and so on, with music by Alain Oulman. Receives, by the hand of the Portuguese Republican President Américo Thomaz, the distinction Military Order of Santiago de Espada, official grade. Performs in Rome, Milan, New York, Osaka, Tokyo, Venice, Campione, and Viareggio.
1971 – The Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs gives Amália the distinction of the Cedars Order. Makes a short appearance in the Brazilian soap opera Os Deuses estão mortos for the TV Record. Releases the LP Cantigas de Amigos with troubadour poetry in collaboration with the poets Natália Correia, and Ary dos Santos. Performs in Rome, London, Milan, Torremolinos, Berlin, Angola, and Beirut. The folk orchestra LP Canta Portugal is released.
1972 – Does long tours over Australia and Italy. She is the protagonist of the show Um Amor de Amália, in Canecão, in Rio de Janeiro, where beyond singing she tells stories about her life. Performs in the IX Cartago International Festival. Um Amor de Amália – ao vivo and Folclores à guitarra e à viola, LPs, are released.
1973 – Performs in Stockholm, Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Beirut. Does a long tour through Italy, performing in Turin, Perugia, Palermo, Catania, and Milan. Due to her long tours in Italy, it is released the LP A una Terra Che Amo, constituted by traditional songs of diverse parts of Italy. Amália is distinguished with the Golden Tuning for the Best Singer in Europe and the Golden Trullo, both in Italy. The LP Encontro is released, where she is accompanied by the American sax tenor Don Byas.
1974 – Performs in Coliseu dos Recreios of Lisbon, Madrid, Monaco, Funchal, and Paris. Newly, “il giri d’italia”, giving 82 concerts in that country in one year.
1975 – Performs in Carnegie Hall in New York, Canada, Luxembourg, France, and Holland. Does long tours all over Portugal.
1976 – Invited to perform in Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, then goes to Bucharest, Japan, Romania, Brazil, and Italy, also doing a long tour in Portugal. Edited by UNESCO the LP Le Cadeau de La Vie, where she figures next to John Lennon, Maria Callas, and Daniel Barenboim. Amália no Café Luso, LP, recorded in 1955, is also released, being one of the most important documents of her performances in the Portuguese capital.
1977 – Performs in Amsterdam, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ashar, Hifa, Sheva, Yeefat, Madrid, London, New York, and Cannes. Cantigas numa língua antiga, LP, with music by Alain Oulman and poems by Luís de Camões, Pedro Homem de Mello, Manuel Alegre and Ary dos Santos is released.
1978 – Performs in Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Montreal, Ottawa, Caracas, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, and Brussels.
1979 – Due to her health situation, she makes a short break in her career. Performs in Palermo, Holland, Belgium, Harlem, São Paulo, Berlin, and Rio de Janeiro.
1980 – The Portuguese Republican President Ramalho Eanes gives her the State Decoration of the Order of Infante D. Henrique, official grade. Performs in Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, Tilburg, Brussels, Newport, and Beringen. It is released the LP Gostava de ser quem era, including only poems of her authorship.
1981 – Performs in Geneva, Montreux, Lausanne, Bahia, Sierre, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago do Chile, Berlin, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Holland, Cape Town, and Johannesburg.
1982 – For health motives, she gives irregular performances in France and Portugal. The LP Amália volta a cantar Frederico Valério is released, with reinterpretations of her biggest hits.
1983 – She is the guest of honour in the Athens Song Festival, performing also in Brazil, South Africa, Holland, Belgium, and Argentina. Lágrima, LP, is released with her own poems.
1984 – Because of a serious disease, she goes to United States for health treatments. The LP Amália on Broadway is released, where she sings traditional American music accompanied by the maestro Norrie Paramor – recorded in 1965.
1985 – After illness, she reappears in the Portuguese Coliseus (show rooms). Performs in Paris, Algeria, Canada, and Spain. Jack Lang, French Minister of Culture, gives her the state decoration Order of Arts and Letters, degree of Commander. In Toronto (Canada), it is officialised the “National Day of Amália Rodrigues” on October 6th.
1986 – Paris Casino honours Amália. She sings in Paris, Tokyo, Osaka, Nagaya, Holland, Belgium, Turkey, London, and Italy. Amália, uma biografia, written by Vitor Pavão dos Santos, and her video concert in Japan are released. Receives the Gold Medal of the City of Porto (Portugal).
1987 – Performs in Paris, USA, Brazil, Milan, Rome, Toronto, Japan, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland. The triple LP No Coliseu is released, recorded live in Coliseu dos Recreios (Lisbon). Amália: 50 anos, a collection with 8 CDs, is released, trying to sum up the different aspects of her discographic career. In the Vatican, she is welcomed by John Paul II, in a private audience with the Pope. Receives the medal of Vermeil of the City of Paris. She is also honoured in Rome.
1988 – Performs in Italy, Sweden, Holland, and Luxembourg.
1989 – Celebrates 50 years of artistic professional career, performing in Spain, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Israel, India, Macau, South Korea, Japan, Belgium, USA, and Italy.
1990 – Big party of the 50-year career in Coliseu dos Recreios (Lisbon), entering the stage to the sound of the Portuguese National Anthem and receiving the Great Cross of the Order of Santiago de Espada on stage, by the hands of Mário Soares (Portuguese Republican President). Performs in Santiago de Compostela, Lisbon, Paris, Porto, Versailles, Lyon, Barcelona, Capri, Mérida, Escorial, Arles, Seoul, Macau, Goa, Geneva, Bilbao, Verona, Granada, Córdoba, Strasbourg. She is honoured at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées with the program “Amália Jubile”. She is awarded the Medal of Honour of the Complutense University of Madrid and the Tel Aviv Medal. Receives, from the Spanish government, the Great Cross of Isabel, the Catholic. The album Obsessão is edited, with new themes of great poets, almost all of them set to music by Amália’s private guitarist, Carlos Gonçalves.
1991 – Receives from the French Republican President, François Miterrand, the Honour Legion, knighthood. Performs in Italy, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, France, Mexico, Greece, and Cape Verde.
1992 – Performs in France, Italy, and Spain. The photobiography Amália: Uma Estranha Forma de Vida, by Vítor Pavão dos Santos, is published. The video concert Amália in New York is released.
1993 – Performs in Spain, Luxembourg, Brazil, Argentina, France, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Japan.
1994 – Performs in France. Gives the last recital of her career at Teatro Monumental.
1995 – The LP Pela Primeira Vez is released, with recordings from 1945. It is released the documentary Art of Amália, currently available on DVD, where Amália takes us through all her artistic life.
1996 – Pause due to serious illness.
1997 – Release of the book Versos that brings together all the poetry written by Amália. Her husband César Seabra dies after 42 years of relationship. The album Segredo is edited.
“For me, the real love is the one that does not disappoint (…) César is well-educated, never disappointed me, never said those things that I don’t like to be told (…). There is a certain type of balance between us.”
1998 – She is honoured in Teatro Camões, by the time of Expo 98 in Lisbon.
1999 – She is honoured at the French Cinematheque. Dies on October 6th, in the house of Street of São Bento, in Lisbon, victim of a heart attack. A 3-day of national mourning is decreed, and she has the highest honours of the public and the State. On December 11th, the Amália Rodrigues Foundation is founded, by will expressed in her testament.
2001 – She is transferred to the Church of Santa Engrácia, being the first Portuguese woman to have honours of National Pantheon. On July 23rd, the Amália Rodrigues House Museum opens to the public for the first time, in number 193 of Street of São Bento, in Lisbon, where she lived for 45 years.
2011 – Fado is declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity, with special thanks for the work done by Amália over the more than 50 years of career.
INFORMATION TAKEN FROM THE WORK AMÁLIA, UMA BIOGRAFIA BY VÍTOR PAVÃO DOS SANTOS AND THE CATALOGUE AMÁLIA: CORAÇÃO INDEPENDENTE, 2009.