Amália was born in Lisbon, in the neighbourhood of Alcântara, in July 1920. The family came from Fundão, and the parents, Albertino and Lucinda, had another 5 children.

Having remained in Lisbon, Amália lived with her grandmother, for the parents went to the interior - Beira Baixa, It was the grandmother who taught Amália catechism and gave her strict principles, sending her to school in Ajuda, a neighbouring Lisbon district.

It was in Alcântara that Amália sings the fado for the first time, during the popular festivals – The Alcântara Fado. In 1938, she entered the competition to become Queen of Fado, but the other competitors refuse to participate in the pageant beside a fruit seller, and Amália desists.

During a rehearsal at the academy, she meets a mechanic and amateur guitar player, Francisco Cruz, whom she marries in 1940, the very year she starts singing in a fado house in Lisbon called o Retiro da Severa.

The marriage lasted only three years , but the divorce only came through six years later.


In 1940 Amália made her debut in the theatre, which gives her more self-assurance on stage and before an audience. It is in the theatrical milieu, during the vaudeville play "Essa é que é Essa", that she meets the man who will make a difference in her life and her career, the conductor Frederico Valério, who writer for her the themes of her famous fados "Sabe-se Lá", or "Fado do Ciúme".

Still in 1943, she sings abroad for the first time, in Madrid. She is fascinated by Spanish and will always include it in her repertoire.

A year later, a long trip takes her to Brazil, where she performs in the Copacabana casino, among other places.
In 1945, she records her first record for Editora Continental, which includes fados such as "Perseguição" and "As Penas". Amália remains in Brazil for ten months.
In 1947 she acts in the cinema, staring in the film "Capas Negras", that was a huge commercial success, with its première taking place at the Condes cinema on the 16th of May.

The French capital would be very important in her career. Paris welcomes Amália for the first time in 1949 and, the following year, she performed in shows promoted by the Marshall Plan throughout Europe. It was in Dublin that she sings for the first time for fourteen weeks.

The success goes on, and at the same time she signs a recording contract with Valentim de Carvalho, which takes to her to record in London in the EMI studios in Abbey Road "ten years before the Beatles!, as she was fond of pointing out. The invitations to work in the cinema are numerous (beside Anthony Quinn, who refuses) and on television, in the Eddie Fisher programme, presented by Don Ameche.

In 1955 she stars in a film which is going to be an important point in her career: "Os Amantes do Tejo" (The Tagus Lovers), staring Daniel Gélin, where she sings the passionate and dark "Barco Negro".


She marries for the second time in 1961 engineer César Seabra, and announces that she is giving up her artistic life to enjoy married life and live in Copacabana.
Nevertheless, the following year she launches another record "Asas Fechadas" which is a turning point in her career. It was Amália’s destiny to meet a Frenchman called Alain Oulman. He had born in Dafundo had already written the song "Vagabundo" especially for her voice. With his lyrics and music, an entirely new kind of fado is born.

In 1966, she records the first disc in which she recreates Portuguese folklore, then another two and later. Later, in 1983 she records "Lágrima", the first that contains her own poems. The celebration for the 50 years of singing career was held 1990, in Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon. On that occasion, she receives from the President of the Republic Mário Soares the grand-cross of the military order "Santiago de Espada".

Amália Rodrigues 50 years - an exhibition in which, by means of photographs, posters, programmes and many other documents, works of art and the artist’s personal objects, something of the extraordinary career of this major Portuguese singer is portrayed. It tries to capture the development of her path as an artist during those 50 years, one in which singing predominates, but which also includes the theatre and the cinema.