Soraia Tavares: Carrying the Future

Soraia Tavares is well known in Portugal for being one of the most talented people of her generation. She rose to a place of recognition when she participated in The Voice Portugal but she is the living proof that not all people find a rare big break. Her career is not romanticized on something like ‘A Moment Like This’ as she has been worked consistently to build her name, either on screen, stage or recordings. She’s an example of perseverance in an industry that still is lacking space for people like her.

Soraia first started to sing during after school activities: they had regular presentations and she got picked to be a part of them. From that she gradually discovered her own interest in singing by doing so in her bedroom. She found her own voice by mimicking such singers as Alicia Keys, Sara Tavares, Lura, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. She wanted to sound like them and was drawn to their vocal technique.

Later on she started to sing regularly in the church she attended, probably because her mother told them she could sing, even though she didn’t perform in front of her.
Still to this day, her artist side is something she doesn’t address that much in from of her relatives. They get invited to some special events like her album release or theatre premieres but inside her family home she doesn’t talk much about that (by her own will). However, it’s what her mother played at home that somehow shaped her musical instinct: she was influenced by the great singers listed above but also by musical genres like Kizomba, Funaná and music played by Batukadeiras.
All these influences still feed her ear and musical instinct to this day, however she is drawn to a different side of a musical piece: what fascinates her the most is the musical choices one does rather that showing her/his vocal range or powerful voice. For example, certain melodies, harmonies or the way one sings a specific word… that’s what moves her more to this day.
She felt a special connection to Sara Tavares while growing up because she was that one black singer who forged a way to the mainstream. Back them, for such an artist to be amongst white people was some sort of a win. Besides that, she was also drawn to her lyrics and, even though she didn’t want to be a professional singer at that age, she felt she wanted something similar to her life. For a black person who wants to make it in the arts world, you have go through a specific self realization process that links one’s work to what he or she is. This is clear as for Sara Tavares to be at where she was, was indeed a statement itself that defied representation standards.

Soraia tried some talent shows: the first one – Uma Canção Para ti – she attended when she was a teenager and didn’t go through. Even though she had full support from her mother (whom she later on dedicated a song named after her), she didn’t want to do anyone of this. And was far beyond the idea of making this for a living.
In spite of what people acknowledge today as one of her talents – her voice – she was not always fond of it. Back when she was a child, her first singing teacher told her she was quite nasal and she still thinks about that today, as she wants to avoid that.
Her voice was not something she appreciated herself: she liked what she heard internally but couldn’t stand to listen to her voice recorded. It was a process.
Fast forwarding to this day she graduated from theatre school and managed to build both an acting and a singing career. She was a contestant on The Voice Portugal and her blind audition is one of the most viewed ones and she played Velma Kelly in the portuguese version of ‘Chicago’ (that was sold out for most of its running time).
As for today, she feels some sort of a mission when she sings. Clearly, her years of attending the church have some influence not only on the way she sings but also how she feels music.
Last year she released her first album with original songs and that marked a long waited path of her solo career alongside being the portuguese voice of ‘The Little Mermaid’ live-action.
Even though she faces each and every work professionally, she just feels differently when she sings her own songs, talking about her own truth.
As for her theatre education, she feels that it helps a lot when it comes to singing as it enriches her approach of a specific message and how she delivers it. She feels it as some sort of an advantage when it comes to her live performances.

By the time of this interview, she was floored with Raye’s performance at the Royal Albert Hall and she stated that when asked about the last time she was moved with a performance or a song. Not only musically and vocally but how she has a day-to-day approach to her songs, what she portrays in them in such a casual way.
As for her, we can find her doing many things: we can watch her on tv, see her performing live both on stage and performing her songs and listen to her lending her voice to many roles such as Nala in the ‘The Lion King’ and Ariel in ‘The Little Mermaid’.
We have many outlets to appreciate her talent and to witness her growing as an artist spreading her own truth and portraying other characters.


Photography: Tomás Monteiro
Styling: Mónica Lafayette

Hair: Eric Ribeiro
Make Up: Elodie Fiuza
Production: Snowberry
Talent: Soraia Tavares

Shoes: Fly London; Total Look: Inês Barreto

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