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🇵🇹 Blast from the Past: Portugal 1994

We know a lot about Eurovision and we want to share this knowledge with you! Therefore we’d like to bring you a blast from the past. Today we want to honour Sara Tavares, who participated for Portugal in 1994. She passed away last Sunday.

Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest

Portugal started participating in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964. It all started with a zero. This was the starting signal for a long and not easy road for Portugal. The idiosyncratic entries the country had often finished low. Exceptions were Carlos Mendes (1958) and José Cid (1980), both of whom reached a seventh place. In 1996, Lucia Moniz finished in sixth place with her “O meu coração não tem cor”. But for a victory, Portugal had to wait until 2017.

It was Salvador Sobral who managed to enchant both the televoters and the professional jury with his subdued song “Amar pelos dois”. It turned into a landslide victory for the Portuguese; something they had been waiting for so long. 

photo: EBU/Andres Putting

Festival RTP Da Canção 1994

The national final in Portugal is always called Festival RTP Da Canção. This year, two semifinals were held, on 10 and 17 january. Each of the semifinals contained 10 songs. Among them, Marco Quelhas, who represented Portugal in the 2001 contest as a half of the duo MTM. Eight songs headed to the final:

 

  1. Isabel Campelo, “Malmequer do Campo“, 122 pts, 3rd
  2. Trivium, “Trovas do Demo e d’el Rei“, 84 pts, 5th
  3. Pedro Miguéis, “Todos Nós Alguma Vez“, 136 pts, 2nd
  4. Inova Fora Nada, “O Vento Sabe o Que Quer“, 83 pts, 6th
  5. José Carvalho, “Lisboa, Minha Linda Cidade“, 92 pts, 4th
  6. Fernanda Lopes, “Se Fores Poema“, 75 pts, 7th
  7. Tó Carlos, “Ai Dona Inês“, 46 pts, 8th
  8. Sara Tavares, “Chamar a Música“, 220 pts, 1st

As you can see, Sara Tavares won with a landslide, 84 points ahead of the runner up!

Sara Tavares

Sara Alexandra Lima Tavares, born on February 1, 1978, in Lisbon, Portugal, was a renowned Portuguese singer, composer, guitarist, and percussionist. Of Cape Verdean descent, her parents immigrated to Portugal and settled in Almada in the 1970s. Tavares grew up in Lisbon and faced early family challenges, with her father leaving and her mother moving south with her siblings, leaving Sara in the care of an older woman.

Tavares exhibited remarkable musical talent from a young age. In 1994, at just 16, she won the national television song contest “Chuva de Estrelas,” performing Whitney Houston’s “One Moment in Time.” That same year, she triumphed at the “Festival da Canção,” earning a spot in the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. Her winning song, “Chamar a Música,” was included on her debut EP, “Sara Tavares & Shout” (1996), where she blended gospel and funk with Portuguese influences.

Her debut album “Mi Ma Bô,” produced by Lokua Kanza, was released in 1999. In 2017, Tavares released the album “Fitxadu,”. It was inspired by Lisbon’s diverse African sounds and cultures, showcasing a more electronic and urban sound. The album earned a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Portuguese Language Roots Album.

Tavares was multilingual, composing in Portuguese, Portuguese-based Creole languages, and occasionally English. Sara was known for singing the European-Portuguese version of “God Help the Outcasts” from the Disney movie “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,”. She won a Disney Award for the best version of the original song with it. She also won a Portuguese Golden Globe for Best Portuguese Singer in 2000.

photo: Henryk Kotowski

Tavares passed away on November 19, 2023, in Lisbon at the age of 45, after a long battle with a brain tumor diagnosed since 2009​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​. Her death was a great shock in the Eurovision community.

Chamar a Música

“Chamar a Música,” the captivating song that Sara Tavares performed at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, showcases her exceptional talent as a young artist. At just 16 years old, Tavares brought this melodic and emotionally resonant piece to the Eurovision stage, representing Portugal with grace and artistry. The song is characterized by its smooth, soulful melody. It is blending elements of Portuguese musical tradition with contemporary influences. Although Tavares’ performance was well-received, it ultimately placed 8th in the competition. Despite this, “Chamar a Música” remains a significant part of her early career, reflecting her deep connection to her cultural roots.

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