11 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Portuguese Singers Of All Time

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Written by Laura Macmillan
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No matter what your taste in music is, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard at least one Portuguese singer in your lifetime. Portugal has produced some of the greatest singers in the world, from classical musicians to pop superstars.

And in this post, we’re will take a look at some of the most famous Portuguese singers of all time. These singers have used their country’s fascinating culture to create beautiful and popular music. Read on to learn more about them.

1. Carmen Miranda

Perhaps one of the most famous artists to come out of Portugal is Carmen Miranda, who was a trailblazer for Latin American pop culture. Though often hailed as a Brazilian, Miranda was born in Portugal before her family moved to South America. 

Miranda dropped out of school at an early age to work as a model and salesperson, helping to support her family. She spent her off-time performing for her coworkers, and it wasn’t long before she was discovered. 

After a series of successes on the radio, she performed around South America in a musical comedy. An American theater manager discovered her, and she was soon featuring on Broadway and in movies. 

The Brazilian Bombshell was once the highest-paid woman in Hollywood before her untimely death due to preeclampsia in 1955. 

Related: The most famous Brazilian singers.

2. Amalia Rodrigues

Our next singer is Amalia Rodrigues. She was a Portuguese fado singer dubbed the Queen of Fado. Rodrigues came from a large, poor family and grew up in Lisbon. Her singing abilities allowed her to blossom as an artist at the age of 19. 

It didn’t take long for the people of Portugal and Brazil to notice her. Rodrigues toured South America and landed her first international hit, “Coimbra,” in 1955. That was the beginning of many decades of success. 

She performed around the world and even starred in films until she was almost 80. Today, she is still known as the Voice of Portugal and remains the best-selling artist in the country’s history. 

3. Zeca Afonso

Born as José Manuel Cerqueira Afonso dos Santos in Aveiro, Zeca Afonso was a singer-songwriter widely known for his folk and protest music. He completed his education at the University of Coimbra and worked as a teacher at the same time he began making music.

Shortly after his first album, Fados de Coimbra, Afonso became a dedicated political activist opposing the Estado Novo dictatorship

He became so dedicated to his cause that the government stripped him of his teaching job, after which he committed all his time to music, producing almost 30 albums in his lifetime.

Afonso remains a symbol of the 1974 Carnation Revolution and a popular figure of the labor movement.

4. Ana Moura

Ana Cláudia Moura Pereira, better known as Ana Moura, is an internationally-recognized Portuguese fado singer. She released her first two albums in 2003 and 2004, supporting her growing fame and promoting her music in nightspots through Lisbon. 

By 2007, she had gained enough traction that her third album Para Além da Saudade reached triple Platinum and sat in the Portuguese top 30 for 78 weeks. 

After earning a Golden Globe nomination, Moura went on to sing alongside the Rolling Stones and Prince. Although her most recent album was back in 2015, the fado singer has released numerous singles—the latest of which debuted in 2022. 

5. Salvador Sobral

Portuguese singer Salvador Sobral was born in Lisbon to a well-known family with an interesting, noble lineage. His music career got off to an early start when he appeared on Bravo Bravissimo at the age of ten. A decade later, in 2009, Sobral came seventh in the reality music competition Ídolos.

In 2016, he got his big breakthrough with his single “Excuse Me.” He subsequently landed a spot in the Eurovision Song Contest and won. Since then, Sobral has released two albums that were well-received in Portugal and Spain. BPM was nominated for Best Engineered Album at the Latin Grammy Awards.

Sobral has used his success to become a notable activist advocating for migrants and the environment. 

6. Lucia Moniz

Portuguese singer and actress Lucia Moniz has been actively pursuing her talents since six. Born in Lisbon, the artist studied music at Santa Cecilia Music Academy and spent several years in the US attending high school as an exchange student.

Her first taste of success came when she won the national Festival da Cancao. That landed her a 1996 spot representing Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Although Moniz didn’t win, the exposure led her to her subsequent roles in television. She eventually scored a role in the film Love Actually. Her last album, Calendário, was released in 2015.

7. Maria de Medeiros

Though actress and producer Maria de Medeiros is best known for her role in Pulp Fiction, she is also a singer.

Medeiros studied in Lisbon and made her first film appearance at 15 in one of her father’s movies. She later studied drama in Paris at the National School of Arts and Theatre Techniques and starred in several films before her music career took off. 

In 2007, she released her first album A Little More Blue, on which she sings in Portuguese, English, and French. Many of the tracks were covers of famous Brazilian songs. She’s since released three albums and continues to work in film as an actress and director.  

8. Sara Tavares

This talented musician from Lisbon, Sara Tavares, has an eclectic style incorporating jazz, pop, and world music. Her abilities range from singing to composing, percussion, and guitar. She often sings in a mix of languages. 

Tavares is of Cape Verdean descent and saw musical success almost immediately. She won the national television song contest Chuva de Estrelas, the Festival da Candao, and the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest.

Today, she has six albums under her belt and still lives in Portugal. Her sixth album, Fitxadu, was nominated for Best Portuguese Language Roots Album at the Latin Grammy Awards.

9. Sam The Kid

Born Samuel Martins Torres Santiago Mira in Maravilla, Lisbon, Sam the Kid is the most well-known Portuguese rapper. 

He grew up in the Chelas neighborhood, one of the poorest parts of the Portuguese capital. Citing the influence of hip-hop group Souls of Mischief, he left school at 15 to pursue music with his first group, Official Nasty. 

The group performed in a few concerts before Mira went solo with the album Entre(tanto) in 1998. His third album, Beats Vol. 1: Amor, was critically acclaimed and was hailed as one of the finest releases of 2002.

Today, Sam the Kid, who refuses to perform in English, has a flourishing career with the group Orelha Negra. 

10. David Carreira

Singer, actor, and model David Carreira is no stranger to success. Although born in France, our singer grew up in Portugal where his family had its roots. His first love was football, but he watched that dream fade following a knee injury. 

Carreira turned his focus towards music and fashion, which wasn’t difficult considering his musically talented family. His career started with modeling, took off with acting, and continued in music when he released his first album N.1 in 2011.

He has had multiple #1 albums in Portugal while also enjoying considerable success in France and Belgium. 

11. Carlos do Carmo

Our last singer is Carlos do Carmo, who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, as the son of the famous fado singer Lucilla do Carmo. Singing was in do Carmo’s blood, and he saw great success throughout the 1970s. 

Despite the drop in interest in fado music, do Carmo’s career stayed strong due to his history of being associated with the democratic opposition during the Estado Novo period. 

Later on, do Carmo won the Eurovision Song Contest along with the Festival da Cancao. He went on to perform all over the world, including at London’s Royal Opera House and the Town Hall In New York City.

In 2019, do Carmo announced he would be retiring from performing live, but sadly, on New Year’s of 2021, he passed away. He was 81.

Summing Up Our List Of Famous Musicians From Portugal

As you can see, not only is Portugal a beautiful country with a fascinating history, but it is also a melting pot of vocal talent.

Hopefully, you can now begin to appreciate a small part of that richness by exploring these Portuguese singers and their masterful works. 

Did we miss someone off this list? Let us know, and we’ll be sure to add them on.

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.