RTP aired on October 19th a special documentary about Simone de Oliveira. In “Vejam bem”, we get to know more about her as an artist, as Festival da Canção and Eurovision were central in the documentary. Simone competed in Festival da Canção six times, achieving the victory in 1965 with “Sol de Inverno” and in 1969 with “Desfolhada”. With her talent, strength and courage, she has achieved huge success in Portugal, leaving her mark in the Portuguese artistic world.
“Vejam bem” – Simone tells us more about her story
In the documentary, Simone tells us that after a first failed marriage she fled to her parents’ house. In a very fragile emotional state, she began to attend the Preparation Center for artists of the Radio, to see if she recovered of that weak emotional state. After a month she was already singing on a program broadcast by the National Broadcaster. It was in this year that RTP was created.
In 1965, the year of “Sol de inverno”, she realized singing was her destiny. About her participation at Eurovision in 1965 she mentions how nervous she was at her first rehearsal. The documentary shows an interview given by Simone de Oliveira when she arrived in Portugal after Eurovision : despite the bad result (13th) there was a “sea of people” waiting for her. In that interview she said: “I tried to do the best I knew and I did not forget the audience that has cherished me so much. If I did not give my best, I only apologize on the certainty that at another opportunity I will try to do better.” And in fact Simone the Oliveira would have another opportunity in 1969.
Still about Eurovision 1965, she talks about how a press conference before the contest got slightly political thanks to an Italian journalist. With the lyrics of “Sol de Inverno” in his hands, he mentioned the following part of the song – “defeated flag ripped on the floor”. Using this part of the lyrics he asked her if that “defeated flag” was “the lost battle against Salazar”, the Portuguese dictator. To that political approach Simone answered:
This is a Conference about music. I think you wanted to attend a Conference about politics, that must be in the same street, two numbers below“Simone de Oliveira, at her 1965 Eurovision Press Conference
Because of this, she had four men of the PIDE (the Police of the Dictatorship) waiting for her when she arrived in Portugal.
“Desfolhada” and a new period in her life
In 1969 Simone won Festival da Canção for the second time, with “Desfolhada”. The phrase “Quem faz um filho, fá-lo por gosto” provoked controversy and led her to receive several insults and prison attempts. “He who makes a child does it for pleasure” wasn’t a popular message in a very catholic and dictatorial country. However, using Simone’s words, “it became an anthem, the whole country knows the song…even a 4 year old child”. Once again she was received in euphory when she returned to Portugal, despite a 15th place.
Unfortunately, after Eurovision 1969 she lost her voice, a hard moment for her. She returned to Festival da Canção in 1973, after having recovered, with “Apenas o meu povo”. With 60 years of career, always singing and representing, Simone thanks the Portuguese people for all the opportunities they have given to her.
As a Portuguese, it is me who thanks Simone de Oliveira for eveything she has done for Portugal. A great honor to witness her strength and talent.