family roots go back to the kingdom of Swaziland in southern
Africa as her grandmother was part of the royal family there.
Maiuko explains that her grandmother was a rebel who chose to
marry a commoner, a Portuguese white man. Her grandmother therefore
left Swaziland for Mozambique. Maiuko has memories of her grandmother
Lisa's words and has drawn inspiration from her bravery and
advice about herself as a woman: one of the tracks on Maiuko's
first album is entitled 'Grandma Lisa'.
Maiuko herself was born in Maputo, Mozambique and lived as a
child in a village near the border with Swaziland. Her
parents decided to leave the country to get away from the independence
war there. They
went back to Swaziland, faced many difficulties, and later moved
to Portugal when Maiuko was a teenager. The manner in which
they had to leave her homeland where she felt and still feels
she belongs made Maiuko upset, angry and uprooted. She says
that she has never really had anywhere else she could call home
in the same way, and would like to back to Mozambique as an
adult. Many of the tracks on her album connect strongly with
her experiences in Mozambique.
Maiuko arrived in Britain around 1993 and has been based there
since then. In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour, in
September 2001 Maiuko spoke of the musical influences of members
of her immediate family: her father, mother and aunt.
A live appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival brought Maiuko
to the attention of label RL-2 producers Maquenzie and Paul
Lilly. She has worked with legendary blues guitarist Jeff Beck,
has had frequent headliners at Ronnie Scott’s in London,
a performance at the 2002 Sony Radio Academy Awards and a European
tour later that year.
Maiuko's amazing singing voice has been likened to “a
less raspy Macy Gray, or even the dulcet jazz tones of Erykah
Badu” (Wax). Her song-writing skills
been inspired by
the likes of
Billie Holiday, Hugh Masekela, Bjork and Massive Attack. Elements
of melancholic South African jazz combined with deep soul grooves
feature throughout her music.
Says Maiuko about her 11-track debut album Different Wars
that was released in 2000: “It’s about Africa, but
not just where I was born,” Maiuko elaborates. “I
hear about revolutions and what people fight for all the time.
Some people are just fighting for bread. I did experience some
of that in Mozambique. The country is at war and we went through
starvation after a long drought”. Most of the tracks on
Different Wars are not typically African sounding.
The musicians accompanying Maiuko use violin, flugel horn, trumpet
and guitars amongst other instruments. The lyrics are in English,
Cape Verde-Potuguese dialect, and the Landin dialect of Mozambique.
It's an album brimming with exciting yet haunting sounds and
lyrics. The tracks that most obviously relate directly to Maiuko's
African background are: 'Mozambique', 'Hold my Hand' and 'Grandma
unique and very striking songs can make a great impact - make
sure you have a chance to listen closely several times! Check
out more about Maiuko on maiuko.com