Sara Afonso: “The song means something slightly different to me than it does to the lyricist”

Sara Afonso is a 29 year old singer from Faro, who has made a lot of experience as a musician already. She started to sing in music contests at the age of 10, attended a workshop of musical theater in London at the age of 16 and studied at the Hot Clube Jazz school Luiz Villas-Boas in Lisbon. She later lived in Casablanca, Morocco for three years, where she continued to work on her singing career. These days Sara is back in Portugal, where she is studying at the Music School of Lisbon, giving voice lessons and also sings in a band. This year, RTP invited her to sing in Festival da Canção 2021, where she will sing the song “Contramão”. We got the opportunity to have a chat with Sara Afonso about her participation.

Olá Sara! Thank you very much for taking your time to answer my questions. According to my research you’ve studied music at professional music schools already, so my first question is:

What does it mean for you to be a musician?

That’s a question I’ve asked myself plenty of times… I think being a musician means communicating through a means with the potential for surpassing the limitations of language. I think a musician strives for expressing that which, otherwise, may get lost in translation.

How did you feel when you got invited to take part in this year’s Festival da Canção?

I felt scared and excited and then panicky and then bubbly. These days I go from one to the other every ten minutes.

Why have you decided to enter the competition?

Filipe Melo, the composer of the song “Contramão” was invited to be part of the Festival da Canção. He invited me. Once I heard the song, I knew I wanted to sing it. Also, Filipe is the best teammate one could hope for and so I’m really happy to do it with him.

For those who don’t speak Portuguese, could you explain in a few words what your song “Contramão” is about?

I’m sure the song means something slightly different to me than it does to the lyricist, Teresa Sequeira. And I kind of like it like that 🙂 For me this song is about bravery when it comes to not only accepting but inviting the unpredictabilities of life. There is a bohemian vibe to it, a young curiosity and openness towards the future with its potential heartbreaks or misencounters. Pieces of art have this thing where they become personal, they start belonging to whomever is consuming them… I can only hope each person listening comes up with his or her own personal interpretation of the song. I found a pretty good translation online, check it out if you’re curious 🙂 (I don’t know who translated this but thank you! :))

What personal meaning does the Festival da Canção have to you?

It’s a big part of the Portuguese culture. Families gather around the couch and root for their favorites and get mad if they don’t go through. It warms my heart to be part of this, for its history, for its communitarian aspect and for its place in our culture.

Have you watched the Eurovision Song Contest in the past? Do you consider yourself a fan of it?

I have watched it more regularly since Salvador Sobral was on it to be very honest. I think that, as a music lover, his participation felt like a game changer because it feels like “Amar Pelos Dois” made very clear that the criterion for which songs should be part of the Festival or Eurovision isn’t whether or not the songs are what we think of as appropriate for these events, but whether or not they’re good songs, with all that that may mean. That’s very freeing for composers and artists.

What would it mean for you to represent Portugal in Rotterdam?

It would be wild and I’d feel honored, not just to represent Portugal but also to be around a community of musicians and artists from all over Europe. It sounds fascinating and like lots of fun.

Have you listened to other songs from this year’s Festival da Canção already? What do you think of them and who do you consider your biggest competitor?

I’ve listened to all of them. I don’t think about the other artists as competition. I think we have really good songs and artists this year and that’s something to be celebrated by all music lovers.

What is it that you are looking forward to the most, when you think of the upcoming days?

I don’t even know… I’m extremely curious just to know how it’ll feel, whether or not I’ll faint on stage and all that… you’re warned xD

Finally, would you like to give a special message out to our readers?

Well… hello 🙂 Greetings from the south of Portugal <3

Thank you so much for your time, Sara! I wish you “Boa Sorte!” for the competition and your future musical career!

You can listen to Sara’s song here:

If you want to support Sara, you can also vote for her in our poll of Festival da Canção 2021:

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