The West End performer chatted to us about her debut album Canção which is available to buy and listen to now.

Hi Lara, thanks so much for talking to me. For those who haven’t had a chance to listen to
‘Canção’ yet what can they expect?
CANÇÃO means ‘song’ in Portuguese. This album is a collection of 22 beautiful songs, embracing fado (the music of my homeland, Portugal); the passionate tunes of the tango
maestro, Astor Piazzolla; the beautiful songs of the Brazilian composer Camargo Guarnieri; and
two songs, composed for me by the Portuguese composer, Daniel Bernardes, one of the most
prominent composers of his generation.

Where did the idea for the album come from? I’ve wanted to record an album for some time, but my performance schedule meant I didn’t have the time or mental space to do it. I didn’t want to make an album merely for the sake of it; I wanted it to express authentically how I feel as an artist and that takes the kind of introspection
you can’t manage when running from job to job. So when lockdown started I jumped at the opportunity given to me by Artway Records and we started working on developing Canção.

How does it feel to be releasing your album? Canção is my first solo album, so it feels really special. I am thrilled with the response so far. It seems to have reached a wide audience, despite its culturally specific roots and this is exactly what I hoped would happen. I believe music is a powerful force in bringing cultures together.It doesn’t matter if you don”t understand Spanish, Portuguese or French, the universal language of music makes it possible for you to appreciate it. The different styles and musical languages of this album are a perfect expression of how I see myself as an artist; Someone that stands at the crossroads of several cultures: I am Portuguese, with a French husband, living in the UK. My family has strong links to Africa,Portuguese people, historically have been seafarers connected to many different cultures, I love to express that element of my heritage through music.
I think it was worth waiting for the right moment to be able to really have the time to reflect and
produce something that I am really proud of.

It must have been quite a challenge to record during lockdown – how did you go about it? This project kept me motivated and creative during an extremely difficult time for performers and I’m grateful for that but yes, there were challenges! We recorded the album in Portugal, where all the other musicians, the producer and the label are based. Travelling and organising everything in the midst of a pandemic was scary and frustrating at times, but I was extremely lucky to be working with a great team. Artway Records were amazing, making sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible. The launch was even more of a challenge. All events and concerts were cancelled, so we had to rely entirely on online marketing to spread the word, not really knowing how things were going to work out. It was a big risk. Luckily, I think the risk has paid off . Now we can’t wait to bring Canção to live audiences!

Have you a favourite song on the record? Impossible question! They’re all so different. I love the theatricality of the Piazzolla, the emotional connection with fado, the music of my homeland is obviously very special. I am particularly happy with what Daniel Bernardes, who plays the piano, and myself achieved with it. Neither of us
are fado players so we want to find our own way of expressing it. Fado is usually accompanied by
guitar and here not only we are doing it with a piano but also giving it an almost jazz feel, never
losing of course, the beautiful mournful sonority that characterises this genre. I also love the
songs that Daniel wrote specially for me; they are exquisite.

The album also includes 13 love songs by composer Camargo Guarnieri – why did you want
to include them?
When I was researching songs for the album, I came across some of Guarnieri love songs, and
discovered that the whole cycle has never been recorded. I tried to get hold of the scores, to see
if the rest of the material was as good. This was quite a challenge, because they have not been
published either, eventually we manage to get hold of copies of the handwritten scores of the
composer. When I played them I thought they were fantastic and perfect for the album. So now
we have a world première recording of these songs!

How did you come across Guarnieri’s work? I was looking for a classical composer whose works were inspired by the musical forms of popular Brazilian music. Guarnieri is well known in Brazil but relatively unknown elsewhere. He is a contemporary of Heitor Villa Lobos and somehow always lived in the shadow of Villa Lobos’
success. His music, however, is fantastic, I started listening to it and was dazzled by the beauty
and the diversity of his compositions.

What have you enjoyed the most about creating this album? Being able to work with such an amazing team. From the wonderful musicians who made this album with me to the incredible team at Artway Records. This is really a joint effort; I could not have not done this without them. In the middle of so much uncertainty and adversity we pulled together and managed to make this project happen. It was an experience that I will remember and
cherish for many years to come.

By Emma Clarendon

Canção is available now in all digital platforms for more information see www.artway.pt