Born Maria de Lurdes Assunção Pina, Lura initially started her career as a dancer. She made a leap to singing when she was 17 and her performance in renowned Spanish director Carlos Saura’s 2007 movie “Fados” served as a kind of international breakthrough for her career.
The 37-year-old singer is now set to astound Turkish audiences when she takes to the stage this weekend at the Cemal Reşit Rey Concert Hall (CRRKS) in İstanbul with a selection of her most beautiful songs. Ahead of her anticipated concert on Friday night at the CRRKS, Lura speaks to Today’s Zaman about her career and her music:
You became a singer at the age of 17, when singer Juka asked you to sing a duet with him for his first album. Did you ever dream of being a singer before that?
I’ve always dreamt about being a dancer. Juka was a dancer, too, and I was attending his dance classes. When Juka decided to record his first album, he asked me to sing a duet with him and this started my singing career.
Initially you wanted to become a dancer and now you mostly dance on stage by improvising. What or who inspires you to dance?
Absolutely, Michael Jackson! I think Michael Jackson was the most complete artist in the world. I can easily say that he inspired me a lot. At the end of the day, I make a different kind of music, but I grew up listening to his songs like “Beat It” and “Thriller” and I will always be one of his biggest fans.
Your debut album “Nha Vida” (My Life) includes your original songs. When did you discover that you were also capable of writing songs?
I didn’t know many songwriters and composers from the music world when I first decided to record an album. I didn’t know with whom I could work to express myself and so I just tried my hand at writing a few songs and that’s how I started writing my own songs.
In 2007 you sang the song “Flor di Nha Esperanca” in Carlos Saura’s “Fados,” which was a breakthrough for your career…
It was a nice opportunity for me. I have always loved the world of movies. Carlos Saura is so intelligent and he is doing his best for the world music scene using his way of expression through movies. Most importantly, through that film, I had a chance to get to know him personally and of course it was a kind of breakthrough for my career.
Your music carries soul and jazz influences, though it’s basically traditional Cape Verdean music. How do you define your own music?
It’s difficult to describe. Actually, it’s a fusion of very different styles -- just like me. My father and my mother are from different islands [of Cape Verde] and I was born in Lisbon. I grew up listening to all kinds of music but I was trying to find the music of my roots and so I started to sing returning to my roots. My music is a fusion -- which is all about me, representing whatever I am.
You recorded the song “Moda Bo” with legendary Cesaria Evora just before she passed away. What’s the story of that song?
The title literally means “Like You.” I was just trying to express how I admired her and open my heart to Cesaria Evora when I was writing that song. I first talked to her manager and told them that I wanted to sing a duet with her. Her manager told me that Evora would record the song if she liked it, and the story somehow began. The song’s lyrics tell how I want to sing like her and Evora tells me in return to enjoy my voice because it’s a gift from God.
After your latest studio album, “Eclipse,” you released your first “best of” album in 2010. What are your upcoming projects?
I am slowly preparing for my next album and I have already recorded some new songs. There will be some guest [musicians] and surprises on my next album but I will keep them a secret for now because it is meant to be a surprise. I am in no hurry, but maybe we can release the album by the end of this year.
You describe yourself as a big fan of Cesaria Evora and critics describe you as one of her successors. What were her influences on your career?
Cesaria Evora was a strong woman. She had a life story full of hardship but she always believed in herself and in her dreams. When everyone around her felt like it was too late for her, she embarked on a singing career [that made her a world-famous star] because she never gave up believing. Besides, she had a magnificent voice and she sang in a very calm fashion, so she was really different as a singer. On the other hand, despite her fame, she would cook at home for friends. She was so unique and her story was so powerful.
You also love to listen to Dianne Reeves. Which of her songs do you love the most?
It’s not about her songs, it is the voice that makes her different and it is her interpretation in each song that makes her special. Every song of hers is beautiful, because her voice is beautiful. She is intelligent and smart and she works so hard to do a perfect job and she makes you feel this. I love each and every song of hers, but “Better Days” and “Afro-Blues” are a little more special. Angélique Kidjo is also one of the stars who inspires me a lot. I love Kidjo’s energy.