Conjunto António Mafra

Conjunto António Mafra was a Portuguese musical group with popular roots that achieved popularity, with more than 80 albums recorded in a 58-year career. The group’s many hits are “Sete e pico”, “Arrebita”, “O Carteiro”, “Ora vem lá”, “O Manjerico” and many others.

The Conjunto António Mafra was formed in 1955, in the Grupo Dramático da Arrábida, where a competition for singers from the parishes of Porto was organized, and where Manuel Barros was the winner. The Mafras brothers (António and Zé) soon invited him to form a group with Mário João Ferreira Leite, as technical director. Then the group “CAIXINHA DE SURPRESAS” was born.

In 1958, António Pedro, mentor of the group at TEATRO EXPERIMENTAL DO PORTO, invited the group to perform in a play (O MORGADO DE FAFE AMOROSO) and mentioned that the name did nothing to help the group grow. From there, ENJUNTO ANTONIO MAFRA was born.

They found a rehearsal space at Rua dos Clérigos, 58 – 3rd Floor, which they affectionately called Cantinho da Rambóia, right next to the Torre dos Clérigos. “Ai, cachopa, if you want to be beautiful/arrebita, arrebita, arrebita” is the chorus of her first big hit “Arrebita, arrebita, arrebita”, recorded in 1959 and which was sung by other names such as Dino Meira or Roberto Leal. The leadership fell to António Mafra, who combined the functions of composer and lyricist with his instrument, the Portuguese guitar. Manuel Barros was the main voice of the group.

The success was enormous and they became the largest group in Portugal – CONJUNTO ANTÓNIO MAFRA.

And successes followed… “a centopeia”, “o vinho da Clarinha”, “o sete e pico”. In 1963, for the first time, a Portuguese group was going to tour the United States of America – New York, Newark, Brooklin, New Bedford, etc. and London and Paris. In the USA, they were the first Portuguese artists to participate in American and color TV programs, Channel 22 and NBC, in the studios in Springfield. In London they held a reception at Casa de Portugal, broadcast by the BBC. They were also the first Portuguese to record in the USA, at the RCA studios in New York, where the previous night Elvis Presley had recorded in the same studio, and with the same technicians.

In 1964, they returned to the USA, more specifically to Hartford, Ludlow, New Bedford, East Providence, Cambridge, Waterbury, Elizabeth, Fall River, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This year they took with them a singer from Porto, Maria Clara.

Meanwhile, they created a label for publishing their records, the “MAFRAS” label.

António Mafra’s death occurred in 1977 and the group ended up stopping. In the mid-1980s he returned with strength after an invitation to play on RTP’s 1, 2, 3 competition.

Manel Campanhã joins the group and the Portuguese guitar is replaced by the braguesa and the cavaquinho.

In 2004, a CD with the title “50 years of successes – Vol 1” was released by GPM and a compilation was released in Movieplay’s “Best of the Best” series.

In 2006, Mário João Ferreira Leite died, victim of a prolonged illness.

In 2007, the album “7 e pico, 8 e thing, 9 e tal” was released by the group Vozes da Rádio, which featured Rui Reininho, Sérgio Castro, Carlos Tê, Miguel Guedes, Manuela Azevedo, Rui Veloso, Sérgio Godinho, Newmax, Vítor Silva, Sérgio Silva and members of Conjunto António Mafra.

In 2007, after the death of Mário João, the Portuguese guitar player/composer, António Morais, joined the group (previously serving as the group’s roadie since 1994). The António Mafra Conjunto thus returns to the instrument that was its origin.

The group ceased activity in 2013, at the Figueira da Foz casino.
Manuel Barros, the voice of Conjunto António Mafra, passed away on July 18, 2016, victim of a prolonged illness.
José Mafra passed away on April 9, 2018.

The group’s songs were recorded by names such as Sérgio Godinho, Sitiados, ódagaita and Vozes da Rádio com amigos.

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