• Ford Carter

Portugal: Festival da Canção 2021 Semifinal 1 Preview



This weekend, Portuguese broadcaster RTP will begin its three-week festival of song with the first semifinal of its long-running national final Festival da Canção, which will be used to choose the Portuguese representative to the Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam.


A total of ten participants will take part in the first semifinal of the national final on Sunday morning, including nine artists who were invited to take part by RTP, and one selected from an open call for submissions. Of these ten, five will advance to the final due to take place on 7 March (8 March in Australia).


The five qualifiers will be determined by a 50/50 split of both a single jury and public televoting. In the case of a tie, the professional jury will prevail. This is different from how the grand final vote will work, which will feature seven regional juries and a public televote in a 50/50 split, but where the televote will prevail in the case of a tie.


The show will begin on Sunday at 08:00 AEDT, and is scheduled to run for approximately three hours.


The running order of the show tomorrow morning is as follows:


1 – The Black Mamba – ‘Love Is on My Side’

Songwriters: Tatanka



Blues, soul and funk band The Black Mamba are formed together by members Pedro Tatanka, Ciro Cruz and Miguel Casais. They have released three studio albums together, ‘The Black Mamba’ in 2010, ‘Dirty Little Brother’ in 2014, and ‘The Mamba King’ in 2018.


They have toured throughout Portugal, as well as London, Philadelphia, Luanda, Madrid, Seville and Brazil.


2 – Valéria – ‘Na mais profunda saudade’

Songwriters: Hélder Moutinho



Valéria Carvhalo was born in July 1997 and is a fado singer and songwriter, who discovered the world of fado music at the age of 15. Prior to this, she had already participated in the ‘Vozes da Beira’ music contest.


Valéria has performed on musical stage throughout Portugal, as well as having been on tour in Tunisia, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Brazil.


3 – mema. – ‘Claro como água’

Songwriters: Stereossauro, and mema.



Sofia Marques was born in Aveiro in 1991, and, when performing, goes by the stage name of mema. She studied guitar and vocal technique at the Calouste Gulbenkian Conservatory of Music in Aveiro. She has travelled to Berlin and Dublin, where she had worked with local artists on multiple different music projects, and, since 2018, had started working with more traditional sounds.


Under her stage name, she has released three singles and her debut EP ‘Cidade de Sal’.


4 – Nadine – ‘Cheguei aqui’

Songwriters: Anne Victorino D’Almeida, and Tiago Torres da Silva



Nadine was born in Faro, and is a music teacher at the Escola Superior de Música in Lisbon with an oboe degree. Nadine has a love for fado music, and has performed concerts in Andorra, Switzerland and Brazil, as well as on stages throughout Portugal.


Nadine has mentored a few different music projects, and is preparing for the release of her debut EP later this year.


5 – Miguel Marôco – ‘Girassol’

Songwriters: Miguel Marôco



Miguel Marôco is one of the youngest singers to grace the Festival da Canção stage, having been born in 1999. He started studying music at the age of five at the Sociedade Filarmónica Recreativa. Miguel eventually joined the philharmonic, first as a trumpeter and then later as a percussionist.


Continuing his studies, Migel has taken part in both national and international contest, and is currently studying a masters in mathematics and playing the bass guitar for the musical quartet Contratempo.


6 – Fábia Maia – ‘Dia lindo’

Songwriters: Fábia Maia



Fábia Maia is a spiritual artist who regarded her debut in Festival da Canção to be “the universe granting her this wish”. The singer songwriters initially gained recognition in 2014 for hip-hop covers she posted on YouTube.


Fábia is a massive fan of Avril Lavigne, saying that Avril has made her feel that “nothing is impossible as long as you are true to yourself”.


7 – Irma – ‘Livros’

Songwriters: Irma, and Pity



Irma was born in Lisbon, but her music is heavily influenced by the culture of Angola, the home country of her grandparents. Despite starting her career as an actress, Irma has had a passion for singing since she was a child, and received a guitar as a gift from her mother when she was 12.


Irma has participated in various musicals, and released her debut album, ‘Primavea’, last year.


8 – Karetus & Romeu Bairos – ‘Saudade’

Songwriters: Karetus, and Romeu Bairos



Carlos Silva and André Reis are DJs and producers who, together, form Karetus. They are passionate about electronic music and don’t link their genre of music to any specific style or rhythm. Their YouTube channel has hundreds of thousands of followers.


Romeu Bairos is a musician born on São Miguel Island in the Azores. He has been surrounded by traditional music since he was a child, and played clarinet. He had studied at the Regional Conservatory in Ponta Delgada and released his debut EP, ‘Cavalo Dado’, in 2019.


9 – Sara Afonso – ‘Contramão’

Songwriters: Filipe Melo, and Teresa Sequeira



Sara Afonso is a singer from Faro who has been singing for as long as she can remember. She has sung in choirs, including church choirs, and learned piano.


Sara attended a workshop for music theatre in London, studied arts and humanities, and then moved to Casablanca, Morocco, in 2014. Today, Sara teaches vocal lessons at the Escola Superior de Música.


10 – IAN – ‘Mundo’

Songwriters: IAN



Ianina Khmelik – better known as IAN – is a violinist who performs for the Symphonic Orchestra of Porto Casa da Música. She was born in Moscow, and started studying music from the age of five. In 1995, she received second prize at a music contest for young musicians in Moscow.


IAN moved to Germany in 1996, before moving to Portugal in 1999, and receiving a degree in violin in 2006. She released her first EP in 2018 and her first studio album last year.


The show will be hosted by Jorge Gabriel and Sónia Araújo from the RTP Studios in Lisbon. The greenroom will be presented by Inês Lopes Gonçalves. This will be Jorge’s seventh time hosting the show, and Sónia’s fifth. Both have been hosts of Festival da Canção every year since 2017.


Host broadcaster RTP also recently announced that Elisa, the winner of Festival da Canção last year, will be performing as an interval act during this semifinal. Elisa will perform her new song ‘Na Ilha’, written by herself alongside Mikkel Solnado, and it is dedicated to her hometown of Madeira.


A few favourites have emerged online for the first semifinal from the song releases, including Karetus & Romeu Bairos’ ‘Saudade’, Nadine’s ‘Cheguei aqui’, and The Black Mamba’s ‘Love Is On My Side’.


International fans of Festival da Canção will be able to watch the show on the RTP website (https://www.rtp.pt/play/direto/rtpinternacional) live.


The first semifinal of Festival da Canção will be broadcast on Portuguese broadcaster RTP in the morning on February 21 (the evening of February 20 in Europe).

  • 22:00pm CET (Europe)

  • 08:00am AEDT (NSW, VIC, ACT, TAS)

  • 07:30am (SA)

  • 07:00am (QLD)

  • 06:30am (NT)

  • 05:00am (WA)