30 July 2010

Maria Teresa de Noronha

If you can read Portuguese--or if you believe Google translator--then I can wholeheartedly suggest reading the latest entry in Vítor Marceneiro's blog, this one about Maria Teresa de Noronha, written by one of the great, great guitarists--Raul Nery--who played for her for many years. Near the end he says "Ela e a Amália são as maiores fadistas. E não posso dizer que uma seja melhor que a outra." That is, "She and Amália were the greatest female fado singer. And I cannot say that one was greater than the other." 

There is so, so little written about her, that to hear something coming from Raul Nery really is a wonderful surprise. link to the post

27 July 2010

João Soeiro

A fadista I really like as a singer and a person. He gets up there and, I think, tries to find everyone in the room. He has been very modest in his ambitions, steady I would say. In fact, he started singing rather late, via the encouragement of friends (I don't have his survey results in front of me, but will post them later--they're interesting).

It was great to hear him on Radio Amalia the other day. Some very charitable person captured his performance in a few videos.

I also wrote a bit about him on my other site, where you can also see more videos.

Way to go João!

26 July 2010

I finally got around to translating an article by José Lúcio Ribeiro de Almeida entitled 'Learn to listen to fado, with open ears. The fado isn't "heard"--it "happens.' Translation is here.

25 July 2010

Just finished watching the 2006 'Grande Noite de Fado' (Gala Night of the Fado) on RTP/International. The program on RTP was 90 minutes long. I suspect the original show was considerably longer. The people on the broadcast are listed below. Note that there is a contest for the Grande Noite de Fado to find the best amateur singers and musicians (not lyricists, though, so far as I can tell). People are either in the 'senior' or 'junior' category depending on their age. The contestants are numbers 2 through 5 on the following list. The others were there to be recognized for one thing or another.
  1. Celeste Rodrigues (Amália Rodrigues' sister, but also a very good singer in her own right.) Here she is from a few year ago singing "Lavava no rio, lavava" The poem was written by Amália. My literal translation of the title is pretty poor ("I used to wash in the river"). It's a wealthier woman singing to her mother about her life as a poor child. The last stanza says, "We are no longer have the hunger we had, mother, but neither do we have/the desire not to have it. We no longer know how to dream, we are no longer able to remember / the desire to die."
  2. Joana Catarina Valente Teixeira (J-F) (she won, and Sara Correia, who they did not show, got second place. I have a record of Sara's and it is pretty good.)
  3. José Luís Godinho Geádas (J-M)
  4. Maria Emélia Reis (J-F)
  5. Joana Felipa Caetano Luz (J-F)
  6. Carminho (got the prize for 'revelation of the fado' but couldn't sing because she had just had some kind of surgical procedure. Now, five years later, she is famous and a very good singer indeed.)
  7. Teresa Siqueira (because Carminho couldn't sing, her mother did!)
  8. Artur Batalha (one of my favorites. He took the prize for best male singer in 1971, but that year is not listed on the Wiki page)
  9. Cuca Roseta (appeared with her boss from the Clube do Fado in Lisbon, Mário Pacheco--a guitarist whose club won the prize in 2006 for best fado house)
  10. Then singing a medley of Carlos do Carmo tunes were Teresa Tapadas, José da Câmara, António Pinto Basto, Maria Armanda. José da Câmara is the son of Vicente da Câmara, a singer of the 'aristocratic' fado. If I am not wrong, JdC's son is now a singer, and in fact sang with his father and grandfather in 2009 or so.
  11. Finally was Rodrigo, who came down from Cascais to get an award for a career of distinction, and also to sing 'Recado de João Dias' (obscure but immensely good) and 'É tão bom ser pequenino', about which he said 'Isto é Portugal a caminhar', a phrase that means 'this is Portugal walking', and one that he attributed to the guitarist Armandinho. The song means 'It's good to be young.' The construction of the lyric is interesting. Each line of the opening stanza is the final line of a subsequent stanza, in order. On his site, José has conveniently highlighted this construction through color. The lyricist was João Linhares Barbosa, and the music is the fado 'corrido'--the running fado. I should really rush to add that there are other versions of 'É tão bom ser pequenino' that take the same approach. For example, here's one by another great poet, Carlos Conde.

  • The other fado, 'Memory of João Dias' is really hard core. The poet is looking back over his life and telling everyone first that it was all a mess, that he didn't care, and that absolutely no one at his funeral should say 'He was a good man' (in particular because he himself did not think so). I spent many, many hours this last trip to Lisbon looking for any books with Dias' poems in them--no dice. But the guy was really, really good. I recorded the show, so maybe I will take a shot at transcribing the lyric (it's not on José's site, or anywhere else that I can find. I don't even have a copy of the song aside from the video). Then I'll send it to José.

a new page

With a little bit of prompting, I am trying out an idea, which is to write about everyday doings of the fado. I don't have a clear plan. The site might have record reviews, interviews with people inside the fado, ruminations on TV shows, who knows.

There are three reasons why this idea is absurd. First, no one is listening. Second, I am very far away from Lisbon. Third, I am writing in English. (I have a bunch of stuff already written and on the web in Portuguese. It's here: http://noitesperdidas.net.) I could write this thing in Portuguese, but I'm not sure that would make sense. The daily life of the fado and the Internet do not have a ton in common (though some stuff does appear to be happening on Facebook these days). So I doubt that anyone in Portugal would care.

Let me see what I can do with this.