Mísia's mother was Spanish and used to be a cabaret dancer, which accounts for many of the influences that shaped her music:
Mísia is a Portuguese fado singer, born in 1955 in Porto, Portugal.
Throughout her career, Mísia developed a new style: she modernized Amália Rodrigues's fado, shocking orthodox audiences by adding to the traditional instruments (bass guitar, classical guitar and Portuguese guitar) the sensuality of the accordion and the violin, and borrowing their finest verses from the greatest Portuguese poets.
Her first album was released in 1990, at a time when, even at home in Portugal, fado was a poor career choice for a singer. With the exception of Amalia Rodrigues and Carlos do Carmo, there was no audience for "fadistas". Nevertheless Mísia went on to record an album respecting all the traditional features of the genre, including poems from popular fado songwriters, such as Joaquim Frederico de Brito or José Niza, alongside with poems by famous Portuguese poets, such as José Carlos Ary dos Santos, and even a piece from Vinicius de Moraes´ song, "Samba em Prelúdio".
The album bore her name, "Mísia", and was very well received by both audience and critics outside Portugal, mainly in France. The album was followed by "Fado" in 1993, in which she maintained her decision to use lyrics by popular writers and poets. This time she sang songs by Sérgio Godinho ("Liberdades Poeticas"), Amália Rodrigues ("Lágrima"), along with poems from António Lobo Antunes ("Nasci Para Morrer Contigo"), Rosa Lobato de Faria ("Fado Quimera" and "Velhos Amantes" based on a song by Jacques Brel) and even a text by future Nobel prize winner José Saramago ("Fado Adivinha").
In 1995 she recorded "Tanto Menos Tanto Mais" (Means "Less Is More"), which combines the texture of classical fado instruments, the Portuguese guitar, the acoustic guitar and the bass, with that of the violin, the accordion, the piano and even the harp. Once more, she sang António Lobo Antunes, but also Fernando Pessoa and João Monge, one of the most appreciated Portuguese lyrics-writer.
The first album to be released in the USA was "Garras dos Sentidos" ("Claws Of The Senses") in 1998. The concept of this album was to use lyrics by famous Portuguese poets with melodies belonging to Traditional Fado (where the melody is not bound to specific lyrics). This way, Mísia not only sang text by past poets like Fernando Pessoa, Mário de Sá Carneiro, Natália Correia or António Botto but also contemporary poets like José Saramago and Mário Cláudio, and she also invited two writers to write poems for the album, Agustina Bessa-Luís, who wrote the lyrics for the titletrack, and Lídia Jorge, whose main poem, Fado Do Retorno is sung in two versions: track 4 with piano, accordion, violin and double bass, and track 11 with Portuguese guitar, acoustic guitar, bassa, double bass, violin and accordion.
Her 1999 album, "Paixões Diagonais" ("Diagonal Passions") again used songs from a variety of writers, from João Monge, Amélia Muge, Antonio dos Santos or Vitorino Salomé, to Rosa Lobato de Faria or Sérgio Godinho.
In 2001, she decided to pay a tribute to Amália Rodrigues, after the latter's death, and recorded "Ritual", where all the songs (except the last one) were recorded as traditional three-instrument fados.
Her 2003 album, Canto, may be considered as her masterpiece. Mixing pieces of the best works of the Portuguese guitarist Carlos Paredes with poems by Vasco Graça Moura (and lyrics by Sérgio Godinho and Pedro Tamen), Mísia created a musical work she would describe as belonging to her "gallery of impossible things".
Mísia is a polyglot. Despite singing mostly fado (which is not fado if not sung in Portuguese), she sings some of her themes in Spanish, French, Catalan or even English. One of the examples is her last album Drama Box, a collection of tangos, boleros and fados, sung in Portuguese and Spanish. In Drama Box, Mísia depicts herself as a cabaret dancer living in the "Drama Box Hotel" with her musicians. It is a very personal album, simultaneously a tribute to her mother and a real description of her life: travelling through the world, taking fado everywhere.
Though she is famous in Portugal, her music is mostly appreciated in foreign countries, especially in Spain and France.