18 December 2011

Fado in 2011: Notable Fado CDs, Films, etc.

This was a banner year for the fado. In addition to sound recordings, there were films, publications and some noteworthy events--most importantly UNESCO's designation of the fado as "Immaterial World Patrimony". Below is a list with a few links and even fewer comments: I'll add more of both as soon as I can. Please give your own recommendations in the comments: I'd like to know what I missed!

Below I've listed ten fado recordings from 2011. For the traditionalists, I would heartily recommend the records by Aldina Duarte and Pedro Galveias, as well as anything from the collection "Fados do Fado." The records by Fábia Rebordão and Luisa Rocha are definitely fado, though some of the tracks borrow instruments and musical stylings from other forms.

Five Notable Recordings
Fábia Rebordão. A Oitava Cor*

Aldina DuarteContos de Fados

Pedro Galveias: Loucuras de Um Fado*
Luisa Rocha: Uma Noite de Amor

Various. Fados do Fado
Five Other Recordings
Cuca Rosetta: Cuca Rosetta
Amália Rodrigues: Amália no Olympia (reissue)
Célia LeiriaCaminhos
Helena Sarmento Fado Azul
Vánia Duarte: Efeito do Fado

And in case you missed it...
Various: Biografia do Fado. This is one of the best introductions to the fado that I know of.

*available on iTunes in the US (I mention this because alot of the other records are going to be hard to find outside of Europe).

All of these are documentaries, with interviews and performances. Most are being shown on RTP, though the transmission is not always available outside of Portugal.
Fernando Maurício
  • "O Rei Sem Coroa" is a long overdue film about Fernando Maurício (left), made by Diogo Varela Silva
  • "Vida vivida" is a film about Argentina Santos, made by Gonçalo Megre. 
  • "Não sei se canto se rezo" is a second film about Argentina Santos, director unknown (to me).
  • "Heaven's Mirror" is a film about the journey of a non-Portuguese--the film's director, Joshua Dylan Myers--to the fado. No distributor yet!
  • "Fado das Horas" is a short film that is pure visual poetry, also by Diogo Varela Silva. Watch it here.

I'll have to say more about this later, but the next time you're in Lisbon check out the bookstore at the Fado Museum. In the meantime, Ellen Gray's book on the fado should be out "soon"--watch for it!

The fado has been recognized by UNESCO as Immaterial World Patrimony. Good news? Bad news?

José Fontes Rocha
I know there were others, but I did not keep a list. Maybe next year.

15 December 2011

Fado at Carnegie Hall, New York City, on January 24, 2012

The fado is about to make one of its rare Carnegie Hall appearances. In fact, this is just the fourth time that this music is to appear in the illustrious space. (Update: See my report on the show.)

The event is "Fado: From Lisbon to New York". The title should be taken literally. The singers and musicians are not just some of the best in Lisbon, they are also part of a tight-knit group that has been playing together for years. The artists span multiple generations and include two of the most influential people on the fado scene today, the singer Celeste Rodrigues and the singer, composer and lyricist Jorge Fernando.

Celeste Rodrigues
Celeste Rodrigues' reputation within the Portuguese fado community stretches back to the 1940s. She returned from a year-long stay in Brazil in 1945 with a new, distinctive style that has marked her as much more than the sister of Amália Rodrigues. While her discography includes nearly 60 releases, they are exceedingly difficult to find (with the exception of a recent release, Fado Celeste). She continues to sing in some of the most illustrious fado houses in Lisbon, and is regarded as one of the last linkages to the time when fado was not nearly as well known as it is now. Indeed, at 88 she is the oldest practicing fado singer in Lisbon (for those who are wondering, Argentina Santos is one year younger).
José Manuel Neto

Jorge Fernando and Fábia Rebordão
Celeste is being joined by two other female singers, Fábia Rebordão and Filipa Cardoso. Fábia's voice and command of the material have grown in strength and stature. In the true spirit of the fado, she is able to take an established fado and sing it like no one else has. She is also a lyricist and composer. Both Fábia and Filipa draw on both the established repertory of the fado, broadened with lyrics composed by contemporary poets such as Mário Rainho (who has written extensively for Ana Moura and many others), Aldina Duarte, Manuel de Freitas, and Jorge Fernando.

Filipa Cardoso
The musicians for this concert are among the best that the country has to offer. José Manuel Neto, who plays the Portuguese guitar, is prolific--and busy. You can find him on YouTube, wearing flip-flops and playing in an obscure tavern in the south of Portugal, and the next day on stage with the biggest names in fado. Jorge Fernando has been involved in the fado since the the days when he was contracted by Fernando Maurício and Amália Rodrigues to write and play for them. Probably his best known composition in the USA is "Chuva", as sung by Mariza.

The concert represents a confluence of all these traces of the fado, stretching back over more than forty years, yet intimately strung together.

More information on the show, including ticket information, is here. The event is being organized by MD Fado Productions, led by Michael da Silva. Thanks to DVS for the added information and clarifications on on Celeste Rodrigues' career.

05 December 2011

Artur Batalha!

Many thanks to César Ferreira (from Os Ferreiras) for posting these two videos of Artur Batalha from 1975. I make it a habit not to take up posts with links to YouTube videos, but these are truly exceptional for their rarity and quality. Plus it's Batalha!

"Tempos da Criança"

Letra: Eduardo César
Música: Clemente Pereira @ 1975

Guitarra Portuguesa: António Chaínho / José Luís Nobre Costa 
Viola: José Maria Nóbrega
Viola-Baixo: Raúl Silva

"A Cruz Que Te Dei"

Letra: Alexandre Fontes
Música: Jorge Fontes @ 1975
Guitarra Portuguesa: António Chaínho / José Luís Nobre Costa 
Viola: José Maria Nóbrega
Viola-Baixo: Raúl Silva

And years later....
"A Cruz Que Te Dei"
Guitarra Portuguesa: Carlos Gonçalves
Viola: Lelo Nogueira

For the truly committed, I put together two YouTube playlists with all the videos of Batalha singing live that I know of. The first set is mostly my videos; the second is all from others.

27 November 2011

Fado and UNESCO

Rui Viera Nery, António Costa and Fernando Andresen (l-r)
Today (27 November 2011), UNESCO voted to inscribe the fado on the "Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity." The vote represents a recognition from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization) that the fado is a manifestation of Portuguese culture deserving of worldwide recognition. The application has been led by Rui Viera Nery and supported by the efforts and good wishes of many people, but not everyone is certain that a outcome will actually benefit the fado.

On this point, the discussion among the fadistagem has revealed plenty about the contested significance of the fado, particularly whether it is most accurately viewed as a music of the people (i.e., something is lost when it happens in a big concert hall) or as music qua music (i.e., the fado in the concert hall is the highest expression of the fado). 

Today's announcement came via Twitter around 7:15am EDT:
‘Fado, urban popular song of ’ now on  Representative List. Portugal’s 1st inscription! See 

The Portuguese papers already have a number of articles on this historic event (e.g., PublicoDN), with links to a bunch of other good stuff. One example: Nery has said that the "extraordinary incompetence" of the leader of today's meeting produced a long delay in transmission of the results. Here is a report from Bali (where deliberations took place) from RTP that includes an interview with Rui Nery (4:00).

In the interview, Nery emphasized a little-discussed consequence of this recognition. The Portuguese government, by putting forth the candidacy, committed to the preservation and promulgation of the fado, which includes dissemination of materials to schools, as well as preservation and dissemination of archival materials (the Museum of the Fado is probably the fulcral point for the latter). But he also emphasized his gratitude to the fadistas (which I think he means includes musicians and poets!) who make the fado. So much so that, according to Nery, the scholars' main responsibility is to follow their work in order to record it.  He concluded by saying that this is a great day for Portuguese culture generally, as this recognition opens the door to a broader appreciation of Lusophone culture.
António Costa

Once the decision was announced, António Costa, Mayor of the City of Lisbon, which was the formal submitter of the application, thanked the chair. Then he pulled out his cell phone, held it up to his microphone, and played a fado from Amália Rodrigues--Estranha Forma da Vida. Excellent! 

The complete text of the official description of the fado according to UNESCO, along with documentation to support the application as well as the text of the decision is here. Here are some other documents:

Report of the Subsidiary Body on its work in 2011 and evaluation of nominations for inscription in 2011 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
All nomination files can be consulted from 13. Representative List

Report by the rapporteur on the meetings of the Subsidiary Body in 2011
ITH/11/6.COM/CONF.206/INF.13soon available

Regardless of the hubbub over what this result may or may not mean for the fado, this recognition represents a triumph for Portuguese scholarship on the fado (my understanding is that the effort was executed entirely by Portuguese researchers and collaborators) and, clearly, for the placement of a uniquely Portuguese art form in the worldwide cultural firmament.

09 November 2011

One night at Sr. Fado in Lisbon

I've been meaning to write this article for a while. The longer I wait, the more daunting the task becomes. The fact of the matter is that I went with friends to hear the fado in Lisbon, and it became one of those nights that captures just about everything that is the fado.

I was in Lisbon for a conference that I helped organize, and wanted to bring a few people out for the fado. I spoke with Ana Marina and Duarte at Sr. Fado, and they said they could accommodate our group of seven (no six, no ten, no eight, no really, seven)--which represents a significant percentage of the total seats available, maybe twenty maximum. The atmosphere here is very relaxed. The kitchen is in the back, just off the main room. Doesn't matter: the cooking staff is the talent--so there's never kitchen noise during the fado (compare with some of the joints in the Bairro Alto).

(Most of) Our party

No one in the group except me had ever been to the fado before. I warned them: This is not tourist fado. We're only going to be able to talk in between the fados--never during. We are going to have to eat there. And I am not making any promises whatsoever about the quality of anything, including the fado. They all agreed to come anyway.

We arrived for dinner. Meanwhile the musicians were warming up, discussing various fados. Ana Marina and Duarte were working the kitchen, preparing the cataplã. Our group consisted of Zeno, Mark, Michelle, Bartel, Frank, Julie and Brian.
This was a Wednesday night, which is when the "tertúlia" happens: a wide variety of friends and colleagues comes to play and sing. A few of the singers are somewhat regular, but many are not. The corps of musicians is more stable, but again--one never knows who will show up. Tonight on the guitarra portuguesa were Dr. Nuno de Sequeira, José Barnay, Carlos Albino and D. Edmundo Albergaria (yes, four guitarists); and on the viola, four others: Duarte Santos (the proprietor), and three engineers: Renato Infante, José Infante, and Ferreira-Alves. This is alot of musicians, though not all were always playing.
Mark, Ana Marina, Duarte, Dude
Carlos Mendes Pereira
(photo provided by Sr. Fado in Alcochete)
Between the time when we arrived (about 20:00) and the time we left (03:00 the next day), we heard alot of music and many fadistas. Here's my list, from first to last to appear (follow the links to the videos). A guitarrada opened the evening. Quim Cigano (literally, Joe the Gypsy) was the first to sing. He is an imposing presence, with a very rich baritone, long gray hair in a pony tail, and a very dark look in his eye. Next was Fernando Morreira, followed by one of the revelations of the evening, Carlos Mendes Pereira. This is a singer who is very strongly in the tradition of the fadistas of the "other side"--across the Tejo river in Alcochete. I do not have a decent picture of him from this evening, but at left is a photo graciously provided by the other Sr. Fado, (no affiliation with this one, and perhaps not coincidentally located in Alcochete). I have heard that it is an excellent place to hear the fado. Mendes Pereira's version of "Maria da Cruz" evoked many singers, particularly João Ferreira-Rosa (who is strongly associated with this fado) and Carlos Guedes de Amorim, both of whom are linked to Alcochete in various ways. But Mendes Pereira's performance distinguished itself from those of both these other singers. Here it is (apologies for the crummy quality).

Ana Marina
The next fadista was Ana Marina. Her transformation from cook to heartbreaker is shockingly fast, but subtle. Perhaps it is this combination of working and singing that enables her to connect with the other people in the room without pretension or distance. Here she is singing "Não vou, não vou", and here singing "Maria Lisboa". After Ana came Nuno Siqueira (the guitarist), followed by Quim Cigano and Dr. Manuel Tomás, here singing a menor. Next was Maria Júlia, a classy lady who I heard sing many times at the Baiuca and other houses during my year in Lisbon.

While all this was happening, I kept seeing Artur Batalha darting around outside, occasionally peeking in to the restaurant.

Fernando M., Artur Batalha,
C. Mendes Pereira, M. Tomás (l-r)

Somewhere around this time there was a break. I managed to get outside and talk to Batalha for a few minutes, also with Fernando Morreira--simpático as always.

The next fadista, Leonel Moura, sang the "Fado da Internet" and "Pastel de Nata", both of which are very light, even humorous, fados. Dr. Tomás then sang the "Fado dos Saltimbancos", another fado associated with Alcochete, with Carlos Mendes Pereira.
Dr. Tomás

Probably there was another break. Now it was late. Almost everyone in the restaurant except Zeno, Mark, Michelle, me and a few other die-hards had gone home. I was losing hope that Artur Batalha would sing. But whaddya know? There he is,  standing in the doorway, ready:

Quadras Soltas (with Dr. Tomás)
Estrela que se apaga
Noites perdidas

As I saw Batalha heading down the Rua de Regueira, Duarte said to me about him: "Ele abre a boca, e o que sai é fado". Which may be translated as, "He opens his mouth, and what comes out is fado." As in, by definition.

The night concluded at 3am with Ana Marina. Thanks to Ana Marina and Duarte for the lovely evening. And thanks also to Mark Pfaff, his friend Michelle, and to Zeno Franco for contributing the still photographs.

Ana Marina

24 October 2011

Great new stuff at Rádio Amália

Alot of new things are happening at Rádio Amália.

The nightime program "Amigos do Fado" (Friends of the Fado), which was run by Vergílio Pereira until his untimely recent death, is at last in very capable hands. The new announcer is José Gonçalez, and the show runs Monday through Friday from 8pm to midnight (Lisbon time). Even if you do not understand Portuguese, it is worth tuning in, at least for the following reasons:

1. Grande Prémio Nacional de Fado. They are broadcasting of snippets from the current country-wide quest for the best fado singers, male and female, of various ages. Last week's winner in her age group was Beatriz Felício (she is twelve). Friday nights.
2. High-profile guests who bring their own lists of favorite fados for us to listen to and for them to discuss (either Pedro or Helder Moutinho was there recently). His interviews are good. Maybe his undergrad degree in psychology helps with this? Tuesday nights.
3. Live broadcasts from fado houses. Tonight (10/24) it's the turn of "O Faia", where Lenita Gentil, António Rocha and Anita Guerreiro (among others) are among the features. Monday nights.
4. Fado Vadio. Live fado in the studio. Wednesday nights.
5. Amália. Every hour starts off with a fado sung by "a nossa diva" (as Pereira used to say). Very classy move.

(There is something happening on Thursdays, but I missed it.)

PLUS, during the day you can hear Joaquim Maralhas and Inga Oliveira. Incidentally, I think it was on Inga's program that I first heard him, being interviewed with António Pinto Basto about their musical collaboration (Gonçalez is also a singer).

I should also mention in passing that RTP has a new Internet-only radio station dedicated to the fado. This morning I was listening to a long interview about a recent exposition in Coimbra concerning the fado of that city. They also frequently play live material not available on record. The Internet-based player shows the current and past few tracks (which is good because they frequently do not have a DJ). There is also an iPhone/iPad app for Portuguese radio that enables you to tune in to RTP (TV and radio) when on the go. If you want to hear Rádio Amália on an iPhone, use something like the the Rádio Portugal app.

01 October 2011

Luisa Rocha talks about "Fado Moves"

Luisa Rocha
I think the upcoming "Fado Moves" show is generating a bit of excitement here, so I wrote to Luisa Rocha to ask her if she could offer some additional details on the lead-up to the show, including preparation, and also how the show evolved. Here's her reply, which I've translated from the Portuguese.

"The project requires alot of concentration from the enire team. There are alot of differences that you can find among us: culture, language, musical style. Event within the company of dancers the mix is eclectic: from ballet to Bboy, through Hip-hop and Modern. We have in common a passion for the arts--an affinitiy that is necessary if we are going to do good work."

"About the preparation for the show, she says that it "began before we had our first meeting face to face. When I arrived in the US, I was surprised: all of the dancers had listened to and studied alot about the fado, and just like me felt that the project brought with it alot of responsibility. It needs to be treated very seriously, particularly because it is a genre of music that represents a large part of Portuguese culture, and that is still being considered as "Patrimony of Humanity" by UNESCO."

"At the first meeting, I wanted to sing in a way that everyone would feel the magic of the fado as they would if I were singing in a typical fado house.  After this first contact, a choice of repertory for the show was made based on the music of my first CD, "Uma noite de amor" (A night of love)."

"Even before the first translation of the lyrics were made, it was curious to see that each gesture of the dancers would describe what each song was saying. After the dancers were given the translations, it was interesting to see that, if they had been given the translations earlier, the choices would have been the same in order for them to identify with the story that they would tell."

"The music overcame any barrier of differences. At this moment, it is no longer "a singer with dancers", but rather a group of friends sensitized and motivated to make the "fado move".  

"I know that in a recent article in the Luso-Americano Michael da Silva, the mentor of this project, says that his objective is to bring "Fado Moves" to the world. But I confess that I would be very happy if our next destination were Portugal."

Thanks to Luisa for furnishing these comments on the show. If anyone reading this blog manages to get out and see the show "Fado Moves", or to hear Luisa singing this month at Alfama restaurant in New York City, please leave a comment so that we can all know how it was!

27 September 2011

Fado coming to MA, NJ in October

The young fadista Luisa Rocha is coming next month to the USA, accompanied by Guilherme Banza on the Portuguese guitar and Michael da Silva on the viola. The show, entitled "Fado Moves", will also include contemporary dance, choreographed by Romainson Romain. According to the online magazine "Hard Música", dates for the shows are 1 October 2011 at the Cultural Center of Fall River, Massachusetts, and 8 October 2011 at the Sport Club Português in Newark, New Jersey. The singer's new CD--her first--is entitled "Uma noite de amor".

I spoke recently with Michael da Silva about the show, and he explained that "it will tell the story of Luisa's album in music and dance." Those who saw the fado/dance sequences in Saura's film "Fado" might flinch at the thought of more of the same. Indeed, Michael himself was initially skeptical of the prospect. However, according to Michael, Romain skillfully weaves together the dance with the music, subverting neither and strengthening both. I for one am curious, as are some high profile guests who will be coming over from New York to watch the show. Here is Luisa in action on Portuguese TV.

For this show, perhaps more than with his previous venture, "Fado Nosso", Michael wants to attract young people to the event. For both shows, there will be a discount for those who are under 25 years of age (see the mdfado site for details). The space for the shows in both cities will be set up to resemble a Portuguese café, with typical Portuguese drinks and appetizer foods available throughout the evening.

Luisa is also currently singing at Alfama Restaurant in New York City, through 13 October, Thursday nights at 8pm and Sunday nights at 6pm. Check out their Facebook page for their contact info (the information on the web site for her performances is not really complete, but the info in this post is: I got it straight from them).

Additional information on "Fado Moves" is here (in Portuguese).

20 August 2011

Good news from Os Ferreiras

I am still a bit behind due to work commitments, but I heard some good news for those of you lucky enough to be visiting Lisbon "soon". The restaurante "Os Ferreiras", now run by César Ferreira, following in the footsteps of his late father António, has the following "elenco" (roster of singers and musicians).

Artur Batalha (video 1, 2)
Júlia Lopes (video 1)
Pedro Galveias (videos 
1, 2, 3)
Cátia Santos (video 1)

Guit. Port.: Ângelo Freire (video 1)
Viola de Fado: Américo Leite

This is really a tremendous lineup, not to be missed. Batalha is in excellent form (I heard him just a month of so ago), Júlia Lopes and Cátia Santos are stalwarts of the restaurant, and now they have Pedro Galveias, who has a real presence live. I should also mention that it is not unusual to have others stop by to sing. Here is a late-night session with the great Jorge Fernando. One night we were there and both Mariza and Carminho walked in...

The musicians are also excellent. Ângelo Freire is still Mariza's regular guitarist (so far as I know), and perhaps he is on this gig while she spends time with her new baby...so who knows how long it will last. Américo Leite is an excellent foil for him.

Thanks to César for providing this information. You can check out photos, find their address, phone etc. on their Facebook page

Note that every fado house will tell you that you "need" a reservation, but here it is actually true. The fado happens Friday and Saturday evenings only. 

Videos of some of my visits there a couple of years ago... (1, 2, 3, 4)

A tough week for the fado, but it continues

Within the last week, two very important people in the fado died. The first was José Manuel Osório, whose work I have mentioned various times on this blog. The second was José Fontes Rocha, who worked for twelve years as one of Amália Rodrigues' guitarists. He was responsible for the music on 'Com Que Voz', a landmark album in the modern fado.

A very young José Manuel Osório
Osório much later inlife
Here is Osório's obituary (in Portuguese, from Público).
A fado from Osório, and another (both ultra-rare, thanks to YouTube user anm1951).
And one of Osório live.
He lived HIV+ for 27 years.

Early career

Here is Rocha's obituary (in Portuguese, from Público). What, they couldn't find a picture?

Another appreciation by Vítor Marceneiro (in Portuguese). Even the president of the country felt compelled to talk about his contribution to society (official English translation).

The gold standard: the Conjunto de guitarras de Raul Nery: Raul Nery (gp), Fontes Rocha (gp), Júlio Gomes (v), Joel Pina (vb), with Amália Rodrigues singing "Naufrágio" from the album 'Com Que Voz'.

Here is a guitarrada from the old days with two other greats, José Pracana and José Carlos da Maia.

Fontes Rocha later in life
He worked right up until the very end, regularly at Casa de Fado in Lisbon. Here is an homage from the great YouTube fado documentarian, casadofado, taken at that house.

19 July 2011

not doing too well with my schedule...

I have a couple of reports to make on my recent trip to Lisbon (a wonderful visit to Sr. Fado in the Alfama, and a great afternoon with José Lúcio visiting his personal museum of the fado), as well as the second and third installments in the "Listening to Fado" series. However, at the moment I do not have the time to write any of these things.

In the meantime, below are some of the photos of a fado show that was organized during a conference that I recently attended in Lisbon. A brief writeup  (in Portuguese) is here. Thanks once again to Michael da Silva for helping to make the concert possible, also to Jorge Fernando, to Guilherme Banza, and to the incomparable Raquel Tavares for the beautiful music.

Guilherme Banza, Jorge Fernando

Raquel Tavares

Maritime Museum

20 June 2011

The authentic sound of Lisbon arrives in the US: An interview with Michael da Silva

Bringing the fado from Lisbon to the United States--and preserving what makes the fado fado--has never been an easy task. But probably it helps if you know the music--and everything else that goes into the fado-- from the inside out.

Michael da Silva is a musician and empressario who has recently begun organizing fado events in the US, drawing top quality talent, including new sensations like Fábia Rebordão and Filipa Cardoso, as well as more established performers, such as Jorge Fernando and Lenita Gentil.
Michael and his fianceé Ana

Michael's path to the fado began in earnest in 1996 when at nine years old he heard a recording by Amália Rodrigues. The song was "Tudo Isto É Fado" ("All this is fado"), which he says "stood in the door for a lifetime of fado". He credits his parents, both from Portugal, with introducing him to this music. By twelve years old he was playing guitar (but not fado), and at 14 was beginning lessons in playing fado on the classical guitar (viola do fado) with Sr. Alberto Resende, an influential player and builder of the Portuguese guitar active in the Newark, NJ area. Michael continued to study with Sr. Resende for seven years.

At 17 years of age, Michael met a second influential figure: Jorge Fernando, a viola player, composer, lyricist and singer of the fado, who himself started with the fado at a young age. By his late teens, Jorge Fernando's talents had already been tapped by two of the most prominent fado singers of the time, Fernando Maurício and Amália Rodrigues. At 16, he wrote “Boa Noite Solidão”and, at the age of 23, joined the guitarist Carlos Gonçalves to tour the world with Amália.  At roughly the same time in life, Michael da Silva put himself in a similar position: he approached Jorge Fernando directly about coming to Lisbon to learn and play the fado "at his feet". At 20 years old, he played for the first time in Portugal, along with Jorge Fernando and other musicians from Bacalhau de Molho, a fado house in the old Lisbon neighborhood of Alfama. Central to Michael's repertory are the traditional fados, particularly the "Marcha do Marceneiro", the "Corrido" (which he likes to play "smoking fast") and the "Menor."
Jorge Fernando

His passion is for the guitar and for the music, which he communicates both through performance, but also through teaching. His 25 students are a mix of Portuguese and non-Portuguese, but all are exposed through his lessons to fado and to other traditional Portuguese musics. As with many other fado musicians, learning and mastering the main body of fado music--perhaps around 200 different tunes--is an ongoing ambition. He wants, he says, "To be confident enough of my music that, when I feel the saudades for the fado, I can go to Portugal and play. I want to be in a position where, even if someone asks me to play a fado I've never played before, I know enough about fado that I can make the musical changes to play that fado and accompany that fado." He expects to complete a degree in music and to become a music teacher.

When Michael decided to start organizing fado performances in the US, it was in the midst of a month-long stay in Lisbon, playing by Jorger Fernando's side at Casa de Linhares, "living as deeply immersed as I could" in the fado. One night, visiting a café with his fiancée, he was struck by the entirety of the experience: "it was truly magical. I thought, this is missing in America. There is a certain thing that can only happen in Lisbon, a particular kind of X-factor that doesn't exist in the US, no matter how hard we try." Nonetheless, he decided: "I really want to bring this magic over." This means the food and the wine, the music and the lyrics, but much more. As Michael says, "The most beautiful, most pure form of fado is only for a select number of people at any given moment. The light is right, the mood is right, and that's because everyone is feeling it--the musicians, the people, the singers--the whole environment is right."

Fábia Rebordão
In 2010, Michael launched MD Fado Productions. As a kickoff event, he organized an evening of fado—“Fado Nosso” (“Our Fado”)—in Newark, NJ that brought the singers Fábia Rebordão and Filipa Cardoso, and the musicians José Manuel Neto and, of course, Jorge Fernando. Earlier in their relationship, Jorge Fernando had told Michael that he could already foresee Michael organizing shows of this type, and that he would do everything he could to help. The success of the November event, which was held at Casa Seabra on 20 November and attended by more than 250 people, sealed the arrangement. Afterward, Jorge Fernando told him, "Sometimes I feel that I want to gamble with people. I gambled with Mariza, I gambled with Ana Moura, and now I feel that I'm going to gamble with you as a manager."

Filipa Cardoso
The choice of personnel for each performance combines established and new artists, particularly those bringing "new flavors" to the fado. Aside from Filipa Cardoso and Fábia Rebordão, he cites Ana Moura, Carminho and Ricardo Ribeiro as some of the "many incredible young performers of the fado". His experience as a musician, and his participation as a performer at one of the top houses in Lisbon, also provides him with access to some of the top musicians and singers. Michael has also been present for many "perfect" moments of the fado, moments that were completely unplanned and "not written in any kind of agenda or calendar". His experience—as a musician, a devotee of the music and, frankly, as a person of Portuguese descent—helps him set up the scene so that the fado can happen when it wants to.

Michael notes that organizing an event is a cluster of emotions and activities at the same time: printing posters, selling tickets, handling logistics, then actually managing the event--even while taking part in it as a performer. The November event succeeded in bringing the feel of Lisbon to Newark--and vice versa, a point eloquently made that evening by Jorge Fernando when he said that the experience was an opportunity for these two sets of Portuguese people to see and understand each other better.

Lenita Gentil
In November 2011, Michael is organizing a mini-tour of restaurants in New Jersey and, possibly, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Expected personnel for this mini-tour are Jorge Fernando, José Manuel Neto, Felipa Cardoso and, for the first time in a long time, Lenita Gentil. They expect to make about three stops on this mini-tour, one in each state, spread over two weekends.

In January of 2012, he will launch "Fado: From Lisbon to New York", at a "very important venue" in New York City. Plans are also afoot to extend this to a month-long tour that would bring many of the artists from the mini-tour, along with some spectacular surprises. Rehearsals and practices for the show are already happening, as are plans for the stage show. Watch for an official announcement in late August or early September on the MD Fado web site.

In the meantime, Michael's business, MD Fado, continues to expand, now including a publicist, an entertainment lawyer, a designer, and a "street team" of individuals working on publicity. With Michael's commitment, background and drive, the future of fado in the US is looking bright.

For information on upcoming MD Fado shows, as well as other activities, see the web site at http://www.mdfado.com.