02 August 2009

Simone de Oliveira

Simone de Oliveira (1938), also known as Simone, is one of the great divas of Portugal. The accomplished singer represented Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest twice, in 1965 and 1969. The lyrics of her evergreen Desfolhada touched Portuguese hearts deeply, in an era ruled by dictatorial regimen. Simone also has decades of acting experience in films, theatre and soap operas.

Simone de Oliveira
Portuguese card by Decca.

Descendant of an African King

Simone de Macedo de Oliveira was born in 1938 in Lisbon, Portugal. Her father was Guy de Macedo de Oliveira, and her mother Maria do Carmo Lopes da Silva.

She is a descendant of an African King of São Tomé e Príncipe (in the nineteenth century Portuguese territory).

Simone started singing in high school. When she was 19 she had a depression. Her doctor told her that she needed to find something to do. Simone decided to go to the Centro de Preparação de Artistas da Emissora Naional (Artists Preparation Center of National Emission).

The first time Simone sang in public was at the Festival da Canção Portuguesa (Portuguese Song Festival) in 1958. She placed third with the song Olhos nos Olhos (Eyes in Eyes).

In the following decade she performed several times at the popular festival. In 1965 she won the festival with the song Sol de Inverno (Winter's Sun) and represented Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest 1965.

Simone sings Sol de Inverno at the Eurovision Song Contest 1965. Source: Mig Meira (YouTube).

Important Stage Actress

Simone also became an important stage actress in Portugal.

In 1962 she had made her theater debut, and she appeared in plays like: O Contracto (The Contract), A menina Alice e o Inspector (Miss Alice and the Inspector), A Tragédia da Rua das Flores (The Tragedy of Flowers Street), and Conheci Miguel Torga (I meet Miguel Torga).

A great popular success in Portugal was Passa por mim no Rossio.

Another success was the homage to the singer Madalena Iglésias (who represented Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1966) in the musical play What happened to Madalena Iglésias? in which Simone played the leading role.

Simone sings the title song in the film A Canção da saudade (1964). Source: Paulo Almeida (YouTube).

Only 4 Votes

Simone reached the breaking-point of her singing career in 1969 with the song Desfolhada portuguesa, with lyrics by José Carlos Ary dos Santos and music by Nuno Nazareth Fernandes.

This song was a great success in Portugal, with innovative lyrics in Portugal at the time of the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar.

The song represented Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest 1969 in Madrid. Despite the popularity in Portugal, this song was not successful at the ESC, getting only 4 votes.

After singing Desfolhada Portuguesa she lost her voice for years. During these years she worked in journalism, in radio and hosted TV shows.

Simone de Oliveira sings Desfolhada Portuguesa at the Eurovision Song Contest 1969. Source: Eurovision Portugal (YouTube).

Breast Cancer Survivor

Simone returned to the stages in 1973, with a deeper, still potent, voice, and in 1979 she won the Festival da Nova Canção de Lisboa (New Song Lisbon Festival) with the song Sempre que tu vens é Primavera (Every time you come it's Spring).

She starred on stage and also appeared in four films: Canção da saudade (Henrique Campos, 1964), the action thriller Operação diamante (Pedro Martins, 1967), Cântico final (Manuel Guimarães, 1976) and the drama A estrangeira (João Mário Grilo, 1983) with Fernando Rey.

In 1987 she successfully fought breast cancer, and in 1997 she celebrated her 40 years career.

Simone still appears regularly on television, where she hosted many shows and acted in soap operas like Tu e Eu (2006) and Vila Faia (2008-2009) and many other series.

Simone de Oliveira was married twice: first to António José Coimbra Mano and later to actor Varela Silva. With her first husband she had two children: Maria Eduarda and António Pedro. She has two ex-stepdaughters from Varela Silva’s first marriage (to Celeste Rodrigues, and she has two grandsons.

This year Simone returned in the spotlights with a new album, Perfil, including 36 of her most memorable hits. We bought it recently during our trip to Portugal, and we can't stop listening to it!

Simone de Oliveira and Madalena Iglésias sing No Teu Poema. Source: J.D. Barros (YouTube).

Sources: Nelson Costa (Oikotimes.com), Wikipedia, and IMDb.

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