Manuel Freire was born on April 25, 1942 and is one of the leading figures of a generation of intervention musicians who sang the Carnation Revolution.
Many will think he was born in Ovar, but no. He was born in Vagos. Circumstance dictated by the fact that the parents are primary teachers and are placed there. He was only three years old when he settled with his parents in Ovar, his mother’s birthplace.
Whenever he is asked what his land is, he replies “Ovar. It’s my land, yes. It was there that I went to school, at school, it was there that I learned to swim, to play the guitar”.
When he was 12 or 13 years old, his father decided to give him a guitar because he was always humming things he learned on the radio around the house. Brazilian and French songs. “So my father bought a used guitar from a cousin of ours, a nephew of his, and he gave it to me. And he taught me what he knew, which was little… ”, he tells in a recent interview with DN.
He went to the University of Coimbra, went through the Military College. When the father dies, he returns to Ovar. He applied to the company F. Ramada, where he held the position of IT operator, coordinator, analyst, and in recent years head of the center, where he directed more than 30 people.
One day, he was in Ovar singing with some friends and a cousin of his had taken a friend, Miguel Oliveira, who had even written some songs for Amália. He asked her, “So you didn’t like making a record?” He was supposed to talk to another friend in Lisbon, who was Jorge Costa Pinto. And there he recorded the album “Livre” (“Não Há Machado Que Corte”) – Published in 1968, this album also contains “Dedicatória”, “Pedro Soldado” and “Eles”.
After participating in the program “Zip Zip”, on RTP, in which he performs a song with the poem by António Gedeão, “Pedra Filosofal”, he is an almost immediate success.
He begins to set poems by great Portuguese poets to music and edits an eponymous album with 11 songs. The poets on this record are Gedeão, José Gomes Ferreira, Fernando Assis Pacheco, Eduardo Olímpio, Sidónio Muralha and José Saramago.
The songs are almost all by Freire, with the exception of two that are by M. Jorge Veloso. With this record, she won the Casa da Imprensa Prize and the Pozal Domingues Prize. It is in this LP that the songs “Abaixo D. Quixote”, “A Menina Bexigosa”, or “Poema da Malta das Naus” are found.
After the 25th of April 1974, Manuel Freire dedicated himself to recitals all over the country, working mainly in Recreation and Cultural Associations, where he maintained a loyal following. The clarity of his voice, the correct pronunciation and the fact that his songs are accompanied by excellent poems contribute to his public recognition.
Only in 1978, Manuel Freire returned to record another album, entitled “Devolta”. In it, the singer once again sets to music poems by great Portuguese poets. This record will feature the collaboration of Luís Cília; another intervention singer, however withdrawn from the leads.
In the 1980s, he divorced and moved to Vieira de Leiria where he worked at the Tomé Feiteira lime factory. He was always recording records and accompanying Jacques Brel, his favorite. In Brazil he admired Dalva de Oliveira, Jair Rodrigues, Elis Regina.
In 1993, Strauss reissued the disc containing the “Philosopher’s Stone” on CD. This reissue contains a new version of the same theme, recorded with new accompaniment and lasting over 6 minutes.
In 1995, she performed at Quinta da Atalaia (Seixal), in a show that opened the Festa do Avante and paid tribute to Adriano Correia de Oliveira. In this show, Manuel Freire is accompanied by Brigada Victor Jara.
In 1999, on the CD “As Canções Possíveis”, where Manuel Freire sings poems by José Saramago, in an edition of Editorial Caminho (Saramago’s publishing house). In this album, with 12 songs, Manuel Freire is accompanied by a group of musicians playing violin, piano, double bass, clarinet and cello. This album, recently released, belongs to the Caminho de Abril collection that the label launched to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 25th of April.
In 2003, he is elected president of the Sociedade Portuguesa de Aurores (SPA), alongside José Jorge Letria (vice-president of the board), José Niza and Mário Mesquita (general meeting) and Álvaro Salazar (supervisory board).
Sold on the 1st of May 2006, with the newspaper “Público”, Manuel Freire joins Vitorino and José Jorge Letria on the album “Abril, Abrilzinho”. Three memories, three experiences and three journeys in a disc that talks about April to the younger ones, so that they know a little better what it was, what helped to change and the emotions and hopes it triggered and that, in the meantime, became history.
In 2014, “Manuel Freire – sings Versos Diverse by Vitorino Nemésio” and in 2018, he celebrated 50 years in music with a concert at Fórum Lisboa.
His well-marked voice, the selective rigor when choosing the poets he sings allied to the great power of communication make him a very dear artist who certainly marked several generations.
“Dulcineia”, “Piece Philosofal”, “Livre” and so many other songs that he interprets so well are already part of our history.