Until her late teens, Mísia lived in her home town, singing occasionally in fado houses, always as an amateur.
When she was almost 20, she moved, for family reasons, to Barcelona and, later, to Madrid. Her artistic streak was already quite evident, leading her to get involved in music, dance, music hall and television productions. However, the vocation that would make her famous had not yet materialised. It was in 1991 that this path began to be trodden, when Mísia decided to return to Portugal, settling in Lisbon, determined to build her own repertoire within the universe of fado.
Never forgetting the revelation that traditional fado meant to her as a teenager spent in Porto, Mísia felt, on her return to Portugal, that instead of relying on the successes of artists she admires, she should create her own repertoire. Thus begins what, according to journalist and writer Manuel Halpern, will come to be called the New Fado.
Imbued with this spirit of mission, Mísia personally contacts Portuguese poets and composers, singer-songwriters, photographers, designers and stylists, presenting them with her vision of fado.
Among the Portuguese cultural figures who have agreed to write specifically for her voice are Nobel Prize winners José Saramago, Agustina Bessa-Luís, José Luís Peixoto, Lídia Jorge, Vasco Graça Moura, Mário Cláudio, Paulo José Miranda, Hélia Correia and Amélia Muge, as well as musicians Jorge Palma, Vitorino and Sérgio Godinho, among others.
Internationally it also received significant attention: Patrice Leconte directed one of its video clips, John Turturro chose it for his film Passione, William Christie programmed it at the Cité de la Musique in Paris.
At a time when everything was still to be done to consecrate fado in the world, since outside Portugal the only reference the public had to this musical genre was the great Amália Rodrigues, Mísia began to conquer her own space in the national song.
For years on end, she consolidated a national and international career, performing on stages of great prestige worldwide, with highlights including the National Theatre of São Carlos, in Lisbon, the Town Hall in New York, the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, the Maria Guerrero Theatre in Madrid, the Palau de la Musica, in Barcelona, the Cour d’Honneur du Palais des Papes, in Avignon, the Piccolo Theatre, in Milan and the Coccoon Theatre in Tokyo. In Paris, she left her mark in venues such as the Olympia, the Thêatre des Bouffes du Nord (with programming by Peter Brook) and the Cité de La Musique, contributing to the enrichment of modern day Fado and to its recognition. During this journey, Mísia respects tradition, transporting it, at the same time, to the periphery of a contemporaneity, both in form and content.
Throughout her career, memorable concerts have followed one after another, Mísia having taken fado to halls and festivals that had never before embraced it, such as the Culturgest Grand Auditorium in Lisbon, the Avignon Festival at the Théatre du Châtelet in Paris, the Berliner Philharmonie in Berlin, the Arts Festival in Hong Kong and the WOMAD festival.
In the celebration of timeless and universal feelings, not only in Portuguese but also in several other languages, Mísia is the Portuguese singer who arouses the greatest international cult, seeing her work recognised with praiseworthy reviews in the most relevant publications of the world press, such as the magazines Billboard and Gramophone or the newspapers New York Times, Libération, Die Zeigt, The Washington Post and The Independent.
With her “contemporary” fado, she achieved great successes all over the world and saw her musical talent recognised with the attribution of various prizes and decorations: in Portugal she was awarded the Medal of Merit and won the Amália Rodrigues Prize in the International Dissemination category, in Italy she won the Carossone Prize and the Gilda Film Prize and in France she received the Medaille de Vermeil, the highest decoration of the city of Paris. In a country that always knew how to welcome her, she was also named Chevalier and later Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française.
The Chilean filmmaker Carmen Castillo makes two films about Mísia for the Franco-German channel ARTE.
The conceptual artist Sophie Calle invites her to participate in her project Prenez soin de vous at the 52nd Venice Biennale.
Mísia is a “character voice” who participates in various alternative projects to her career as a fado singer. Examples of this versatility are: Stravinsky’s The Story of the Soldier, Kurt Weill and Bertold Brecht’s The Seven Deadly Sins of the Petit Bourgeois, Piazzolla and Ferrer’s Maria de Buenos Aires, as well as her participation in the Mediterranean album by the baroque group L’Arpeggiata. In 2013, she participated as an actress in the play L’Abattoir Invisible by Karin Serres.
In February 2015, Mísia was accompanied by the Bremen Philharmonic to perform a repertoire that included not only fado, but also Lieder by Schubert.
In 2016 she performs Giosefine a theatrical project based on a text Letter from Casablanca by Antonio Tabucchi and directed by Guillermo Heras. World premiere at the Teatro Regio in Buenos Aires.