Hind Laroussi Tahiri was one of the 2002 finalists in the Dutch version of Pop Idols / American Idol. Clearly I don't belong to the target audience of such programmes, so I only watched some fragments (there are some other people in the house too, with their own preferences). I thought she was among the better candidates already then, she should have won as far as I'm concerned.
Some time ago I heard she is a fan of Dulce Pontes, and that she leant to sing some of her songs. Yesterday (26 September 2003) I heard her sing the song "Fado Măe", in the programme Raymann is laat by Dutch-Surinam stand-up comedian Jörgen Raymann. (The original of that song is on track 2 of Dulce Pontes' CD O primeiro canto.)
It sounded amazingy good, considering the fact that Hind does not have a Portuguese, but rather a Dutch/Morrocan background. It is true that at the moment she primarily still imitates her idol Dulce Pontes, but considering her age (18) we cannot blame her for that. Developing a style of one's own requires more experience and maturity.
Her pronunciation of the
Portuguese lyrics is already quite reasonable.
It seems she has a private tutor for that.
It wasn't truly perfect yet, but then it isn't exactly an easy language
For example, I heard an h-like sound somewhere, which has no place in this language. And I didn't hear everything quite well, also because I didn't fully understand the lyrics. But that often happens with Portugese sung by a native speaker too, so it's my fault rather than hers.
I really hope that Hind further
develops also in this direction.
(Her other repertoire doesn't really appeal to me personally,
which doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it.)
I would like to see Hind expand her experiments to other fado singers than just Dulce Pontes. It would be amusing if Hind were among the first non-Portugese singers to become big in fado music!
On the 5th of December 2003 I heard Hind sing again, as a guest artist in Barend en Van Dorp's programme, and again she sang that Portugese song. I payed more attention now, and I think I now know where the problem lies.
The lyrics go:
Quem me dera ser o mar para a embalar e adormecę-la
My tentative translation:
If only I could be the sun and wrap her in to lay her asleep
(Who is "her"? The sun? The mother? Anyway, that is not the issue now.)
When singing this "para a" Hind probably tries to really pronounce both the second and third 'a', and she inserts a kind of h to separate the two. But that's not how it works in Portuguese: those two unstressed a's (which gives them a special timbre) flow together to form a single bright a. I listened to Dulce Pontes' original to check, and she clearly sings the "para a embalar" as if it read "prŕ embalar", exactly as the pronunciation rules of European (and African) Portuguese dictate.
Addition 17 March 2007:
Here's another non-Portuguese who nevertheless sings fado reasonably well: the Hongarian winner of Pop Idol 2006 (in Hungarian: Megasztár): Magdolna Rúzsa (in Hungarian Rúzsa Magdolna). She doesn't have a great voice, to my liking. But it is how she manages the hit the peculair sound of Portuguese rather well.
This is the same singer in her own language. Sounds better, her voice is better suited for this kind of music.