22 December 2012

Fado Favorites 2012

The fado is holding steady, even flourishing, through Portugal's fiscal crisis. In addition to plenty of music, there have been films, a play, books, and a number of notable events. Last year's UNESCO designation of the fado as "world immaterial heritage and patrimony" has helped, as has a wave of solid fado records. But the successful UNESCO bid has also created some divisions.

These are my personal favorites from a very busy year in the fado. An important caveat: I am not living in Portugal (though I did spend a couple of weeks there last year), and--despite the fado's ever increasing global profile--I am sure I failed to hear or read about many excellent works. If you feel there's something I missed, please drop a comment and let me know about it!

Notable Records

Saudade no Futuro. Fados Dos 8 Aos 17 Anos
This year's sentimental favorite: fado sung and played exclusively by kids between 8 and 17, all of them hugely competent, and all singing fados that are completely right for their ages. Highest recommendation.

Most of the group
Beatriz Felício

Aldina Duarte. Contos de fado
Aldina Duarte returns! Many lyrics written by her, and performed as always with top-flight musicians. Erudite but passionate.

Live at the Fado Museum

Helena Sarmento. Fado Azul.
A classic fado record, with solid musical performances and fresh lyrics, delivered in a tight and individualistic style. An excellent introduction to the modern fado.

Live in Porto

Sandra Correia. Ao Vivo
Passionate and intimate. The repertory reflects the core of fado as performed in many of the houses of Lisbon and, in Sandra Correia's case, the city of Porto, where she is a regular performer at the Casa da Mariquinhas.

Live in Estoril

Rodrigo Costa Felix. Fados de Amor
A pensive follow-up to his more sprightly first record, this is the only disc by a man on the list. Unlike many other singers, Rodrigo Costa Felix is willing to explore the bizarre trajectories of modern love, but also to recognize the base emotions that bring us together--sometimes against our will. (Rodrigo is coming to the Casa do Alentejo, Toronto, Canada on 16 March 2013.)

Amigo Aprendiz (voted one of the 12 best ballads of the year the The Atlantic magazine in the US)

Joana Amendoeira. Amor Mais Perfeito
Joana Amendoeira was part of a vanguard of fadistas who bridged the time between the end of Amália Rodrigues' career and the beginning of the new wave of fado. Anything she releases is worth listening to. Here, she offers a series of both deep and playful reflections on her long association with one of Amália's most important guitarists, José Fontes Rocha. The beauty of this record transcends our listening to it.
Live in 2006
Live at Rádio Amália in 2012

Carminho. Alma
Carminho is on a non-stop burn through the fado. Her beauty, her voice, and her uncompromising approach to her repertory enable her to engage the past of fado and to challenge the shape of its future. She is a bold and forthright singer, with a compelling live presence. This record, as well as her first release "Fado", are both modern classics.

Carminho's web site
Live in Lisbon

Digital Fado
This is unquestionably the year that fado jumped headlong into the digital age. While there continue to be various homegrown web sites devoted to the fado (like this one), it's only recently that the artists are getting out there in earnest. The record label "Saudade Records" is a trailblazer in this regard. The label represents fado artists who, generally speaking, have a lower international profile than those on, say, Sony. But the label has promoted its artists through a range of digital media, including Amazon, iTunes and Facebook. Those lucky enough to purchase the physical copies of the CDs will find that they are lovingly and carefully made, with plenty of documentation. In the last 1 1/2 years, the label has been on a roll, with records by Pedro Galveias, José Manuel Barreto, and Saudade no Futuro. Next year promises more.

Another digital highlight was Carminho's promotional campaign for her second CD, Alma. She published one video per week on YouTube in the time leading up to the release, with each video telling the story of one track on the album and featuring samples of the song (ex., Lágrimas do Sul). This was an enormously successful endeavor (Ana Moura followed suit before the release of her latest album, Desfado). Other artists, such as Rodrigo Costa Felix, Maria Ana Bobone and Ricardo Ribeiro began to emphasize Facebook and YouTube over MySpace to publicize their work. Rodrigo Costa Felix also showed up with his wife in a flashy photo spread, and Carminho was in some kind of promo campaign for watches. Definitely interesting.

Aldina Duarte continues to stretch and stretch. In addition to a new album, this year, in cooperation with the Fado Museum, she produced a series of interviews spanning a variety of fado-related themes, all of which can be seen on the museum's web site. She continues to write lyrics for herself and other fadistas. She has also been acting for film. Duarte is a wide-ranging artist who has yet to find her limits. She is defintely one to watch.

The video stalwarts of YouTube continue to document the fado as it happens outside the main venues. Here are some standout singers they captured during the past year:
Rogério Silva
Artur Batalha
Clara Sevivas
Sónia Santos
Jaime Dias

And some great channels:

The director Diogo Varela Silva released the documentary "O Fado da Bia", a close-up look at the iconoclastic fadista, Beatriz da Conceição. Unlike his documentary of the fadista Fernando Maurício, this one is short on head shots and long on voyeurism, capturing Beatriz da Conceção in performance and in conversation with other fadistas, where she speaks intimately of her life in the fado. The filmed performances testify to her towering presence in the fado, while the conversations reveal some of the internal contradictions, flaws and strident views that--until now--have been expressed mainly in her music and sporadic interviews. It's a captivating psychological portrait

O Julgamento do Chico do Cachiné
A rare piece of fado theater made it to the stage this year. "O Julgamento do Chico do Cachiné" was written by Linhares Barbosa in 1945, first performed in its entirety the same year at the Adega Machado, then only sporadically and incompletely until this year, when it was resurrected by the singer and scholar Daniel Gouveia. I was lucky to be in Lisbon during its run at the Teatro Ibérico in Lisbon. The Chico in question is on trial to determine whether he is a scoundrel or an honest man--and there are plenty of colorful characters ready to testify either way. The production merits its own complete entry (which I expect to write soon), but was notable for the heavily improvised performances of the three fadistas (Gouveia, Nuno de Aguiar, and Maria Eméilia) who took on all the roles, and for the top-notch playing of the two musicians, Sidónio Pereira and José Clemente.

Raul Nery
Among the losses in the fado this year were two stalwarts, the incomparable Raúl Nery, who played on countless important fado records from the 1940s until his professional retirement in the 1990s, and José Lá Féria, an indefatigable promoter of the fado on radio.

The poetry of the fado--and the poets of the fado--jumped into the fray over the worsening state of the Portuguese economy and the resulting threats to the Portuguese way of life. Tiago Torres da Silva published a poem per day (on Facebook, of course) that cut to the bone of the issues facing the Portuguese people. Mário Rainho put aside his work organizing fado at the Pérola do Fado in order to devote his time to writing for musical comedy on the stage ("farce" is probably the better term). This one, entitled "Humor com Humor se Paga!", is a sly and winning commentary on Portugal's current economic and social situation. In Porto, the enigmatic António Torre da Guia continued to churn out poetry--combined with his own inimitable graphics--on a diverse range of topics.

The UNESCO designation has certainly created lots of opportunities for bringing more fados to the masses--but also for making a buck. In the former camp, are two excellent initiatives, the fado school in the Lisbon neighborhood of the Mouraria, and a small, very precious book called "My first Amália"(available on wook.pt).  In the latter, there have been countless collections of "fado" available in stores and through magazine promotions, as well as many singers and groups who are now "fado". In the wake of this commercialization, some singers and musicians have simply headed for the hills, perhaps to wait until the furor blows over. Somewhat surprisingly, some of the stalwarts of the fado--including Ana Moura and Lenita Gentil--released records that were barely (Moura) or not (Gentil) fado at all. Having said this, both singers continue to promote the fado like few others: Moura through nearly continuous touring worldwide; Gentil through her steady appearances at O Faia in Bairro Alto.

Finally, big-time fado in the US continues to happen, although at a rate that belies the level of interest in the music here. Among the concerts this year was a marquee event at Carnegie Hall, which included the fadistas Celeste Rodrigues, Jorge Fernando, Fábia Rebordão and Filipa Cardoso. Ana Moura stopped here on an international tour, as did António Zambujo. Meanwhile, Manuela Cavaco and Carlos Macedo visited Newark, NJ--a continuing center for fado in the US. A new Facebook group is publishing ongong news about upcoming fado events in the US, whether led by Portugal- or US-based artists.

My wishes for the New Year? Very simple! Visits to the US by Carminho, Ricardo Ribeiro and Rodrigo Costa Felix. All of these (and others) are singers in their prime, with repertories that are continually evolving and music played by some of the best fado musicians the country has to offer.

19 December 2012

Coming soon... Best of Fado in 2012

What are these kids waiting for (and who are they?)--find out soon when this year's "Best of Fado" list is published here!

18 December 2012

Essential Fado

The Facebook group "Fado in the US" is a good place to find information on fado performances in the US (though we are always looking for new contributions!). I asked the group's members for their essential fado recordings. Here are the responses, with the writer of the lyric and, sometimes, the singer who was mentioned*):
Carlos Conde
(follow the link for more)
  • Porta do coraçao (Carlos Conde)
  • Oiça lá Ó Senhor Vinho (Alberto James; as sung by Amália)
  • Barco Negro (David Mourão Ferreira)
  • Casa Portuguesa (Reinaldo Ferreira)
  • Primavera (David Mourão Ferreira)
  • Povo Que Lavas No Rio (Pedro Homem de Melo)
  • Canção do Mar (Ferrer Trindade; as sung by Dulce Pontes)
  • Coimbra (José Galhardo)
  • Bairro Alto (Nuno de Aguiar or Carlos Neves; as sung by Carlos do Carmo)
  • Lisboa, Menina e Moça (Ary dos Santos)
  • Fado da Sina (Amadeu do Vale; as sung by Hermínia Silva)
  • Rosa Enjeitada (José Galhardo; as sung by Hermínia Silva)
  • Mariquinhas (probably Casa da Mariquinhas, or maybe Leilão da Casa da Mariquinhas, or Mariquinhas Vai à Fonte,...)
  • Pomba Branca (Vasco de Lima Couto; as sung by Max)
  • Cabelo Branco é Saudade (Henrique Rego; as sung by Alfredo Marceneiro)
  • Ó Gente da Minha Terra (Amália Rodrigues; as sung by Mariza)
  • Tive um Coração, Perdi-o (Amália Rodrigues; as sung by Cristina Branco)
Thanks everyone! And please do join the group "Fado in the US" if you'd like to get plugged in to live fado in the US.

*More complete information is available at José Fernandes Castro's site, Fados do Fado.

30 October 2012

Prémios Amália

Every year, the Amália Prizes (Prémios Amália) are awarded to a selection of artists "in" or "out" of the fado. The jury is filled with some very good people. Below are the results from this year. Many of the names are recognizable from this blog, including Fábia Rebordão, Rodrigo, Rádio Amália, Carminho, and Ângelo Freire

The categories are roughly as follows ("dentro"="in", "fora"="out"): (A) Revelation ("new discovery") within the fado (voice, Portuguese guitar, viola), then outside the fado; (B) Album in and out; (C) Composition; (D) Poetry; (E) Career in and out; (F) Scholarship; (G) Dissemination; (H) Singer in and out; (I) Musicians (as above); (J) Fusion; (L) Discographic production; (M) Prestige; (N) International dissemination; (O) Tribute to Amália.

There's alot of great talent on this list. I'm not sure I agree with all the choices (half of the album by Alvim is not fado), but others are spot-on. Cidália Moreira and Rodrigo do not necessarily get the attention they deserve (E); Sardinha's book is controversial but interesting (F); Rádio Amália (G) and Carminho (H) are both excellent choices, as are those for the musicians (I)--all of whom are fairly young. Mísia was a surprise, as she has wandered for many years out of the fado (and out of Portugal), but tours tirelessly (N). Gonçalo--I don't know what the prize is for, but the guy has a good voice (O).

11 October 2012

If you're traveling soon to Lisbon...

Here is an event worth attending if you will be in Lisbon over the next couple of weeks. Fátima Fernandes is a stalwart of the fado scene, and on 28 October 2012 she'll be celebrating 40 years in the fado (as well as a new CD). The list of singers and musicians for this event is testimony to her renown: there are so many great artists on this list, it's mind-boggling. The event will take place at the Voz do Operário. This is a biggish hall (maybe a couple of hundred people)--but don't worry, it'll be full and homey. Here is Fátima at the Grupo Desportivo de Mouraria. Yes, approximately everyone is singing along to this. Parabéns Fátima Fernandes! Mereces isto e muito mais!

26 September 2012

Manuela Cavaco coming to New Jersey on 6 October

The Portuguese fadista Manuela Cavaco will be bringing the fado from Montijo, Portugal to Elizabeth, New Jersey on Friday, 6 October 2012. The concert is organized by the Fundação Amália USA, and will take place at the Salão Nobre next door to Nossa Senhora da Fátima (Our Lady of Fátima) church, which is located at 403 Spring Street in Elizabeth. The event begins at 6:30pm. Cost is $60 per person and includes dinner.

In addition to Manuela Cavaco, fadistas based in the Elizabeth area will perform, among them Pedro Botas. Accompanying these singers will be José Silva (guitarra portuguesa), Viriato Ferreira (viola), and Pedro Pimentel (contra bass), all of whom played early this year when Carlos Macedo visited here. I was there and they were great. The evening will also include a tribute to the late Cora d'Abreu, a fadista who performed for many years in and around Newark.

In a brief interview, Manuela spoke about her past and present contact with the Portuguese community in the USA. During one memorable visit, she got involved in an Açorean-style desgarrada--a sort of competitive back-and-forth between two or more singers--that lasted until four AM. She was so tired due to the time difference that every once in a while she would take a rest on the couch--but she never lost her place.

Her visit this time came about with a phone call to her home, and the person on the other line asking "Do you want to come to the US?" "What time is the flight?" she responded. The concert will benefit the Fundação Amália USA (named for Amália Rodrigues).

My recommendation is get your tickets now: Manuela was supposed to have come earlier this year but could not due to a travel snafu. For reservation and more information, call Margareth de Jesus (973) 332-3776 or Lídia Maio (908) 334-6640.

If you are on Facebook, look for Manuela. In addition to her web site, you can see and hear performances of hers on YouTube. Here is O Vento (The Wind), Avé Maria Fadista (Hail Mary, Fadista), and Fadista Louco (The Crazy Fadista). You want pure fado? Go!

23 August 2012

Good-bye to a good friend

A good friend and fadista from Portugal, José Maria Fernandes, died very recently. I wrote this short piece about him, our friendship, and the fado. I'm going to try to find time to translate it, but in the meantime (knowing that some of you speak Portuguese), here it is (text is taken from my other blog, http://fado-hoje.blogspot.com).

Venho por aqui falar de um grande amigo e fadista, José Maria Fernandes, que faleceu há uma semana. A nossa amizade foi criada juntamente com o fado, ou talvez seja melhor dizer que quanto mais que conhecíamos, mais que compreendi sobre o fado e a bondade que pode ser criado dentro do âmbito fadista. Quando vim com a minha família à Lisboa há alguns anos--sem saber nada do fado actual--foi ele que me introduziu ao mundo fadista que agora faz parte imutável da minha vida.

Na altura quando lá vivíamos, frequentávamos a Baiuca em Alfama. Pouco a pouco, eu ia conversando com os fadistas, os músicos e as outras pessoas que por ali passavam. Gostei de ouvir o José Maria cantar, mesmo que os clientes conversassem tanto durante o fado. O José Maria cantava os clássicos, os fados associados com os fadistas que ele apreciava mas que se encontrou fora da moda, como o Fernando Farinha ou o Tony de Matos. Ele cantava de amor e de solidão. Era romântico, sem desculpas.

Comigo não queria falar da sua vida privada. Um dia perguntei-lhe" "Aonde trabalha?" Respondeu enigmaticamente: "Trabalhava em Alcântara..." Percebeu perfeitamente o que eu tinha perguntado, mas não queria entrar no assunto, nem me ofender. Para muito tempo, só sabia que era "da outra banda."

Ele vadiava de casa em casa em Alfama, uns dias por semana. Encontrei-o muitas vezes na Baiuca, e anos depois também frequentava o Sr. Fado. Como muitos outros fadistas, não queria ganhar dinheiro, só queria era cantar e conversar com amigos durante os intervalos ou quando esperava por sua vez. Fomos uma vez a um território distante–a Graça–para visitar a Tasca do Jaime. Pôs-se em pé, introduziu-se com humildade, agradeceu a dona, depois cantou dois fados do coração. Gostou, mas percebi que o seu povo, e os seus lugares de hábito, eram todos de Alfama. Por outro lado, sempre ia conosco por qualquer lado: às outras casas de Alfama, à Mouraria.

A manter a ordem à porta da Baiuca

Uma vez telefonei-o, e atendeu ao telefone bruscamente, como sempre. "Ó Zé, aonde está?" Estava na casa do Sr. Henrique, no sul do país. "A fazer o que?" perguntei eu. A ajudar nisto ou naquilo, depois ele ia regressar à noite para trabalhar no dia seguinte. Outras vezes, estava indo para Angola. Sempre a vadiar...

Queria que nos fôssemos portugueses: eu, a minha esposa, e os meus filhos. Ajudou-me com a burocracia portuguesa, inventou planos fantásticos para que eu conseguisse manter uma presença permanente em Portugal ("compre um apartamento", "troque o seu trabalho", etc.). Fizemos percursos de pê e de carro por várias zonas de cidade. Não era jovem, mas andou sempre velozmente, cheio de vontade para chegar.

Uma vez que visitamos Lisboa, queria buscá-nos no aeroporto. Disse-me que tinha um carro que servia.  Não acreditava. "Cabe, cabe. Não se preocupe", respondeu o meu amigo. Chegou com um Citroën antiquíssimo, que não foi nada grande. Mas ele não queria saber nada das minha dúvidas. De uma magia qualquer, conseguiu meter tudo lá dentro--cinco pessoas e todas as malas. Depois da visita, ao regressar ao aeroporto, ofereceu-me uma caixa de discos do fado. Não o queria, mas disse "Trago sempre uma commigo, e vou dando-a quando me apetecer, depois compro mais uma." Assim, o fado e ele andava sempre a par.

Quando eu estava fora de Portugal, telefonava-o por Skype, e por isso ele não reconhecia o número. Quando atendeu ao telefone, dizia "Alô", duma maneira brusca, que transmitiu uma mensagem clara: "Como é que vais explicar esta intrusão?" Eu respondia, "Ó José Maria, é David Mendonça." "Ó David, como está amigo!" E depois era tudo alegria. Mesmo na rua, eu nem sempre percebia quando ele sentia pró ou contra alguém, pois resmungava à frente de todos.

Na Tasca do Jaime

O José Maria vivia com o fado sempre no peito. Quando falávamos, às vezes exprimia os seus sentimentos em termos fadista, sem pretensões e como se fosse a sua própria linguagem. Queria ensinar-me toda a história do fado que conhecia, a qual assisti com toda a minha atenção. Introduziu-me ao mundo ocupado por aquelas pessoas que vivem para o fado, e não através do fado. O fado do José Maria era um fado puro, que refletia uma sensibilidade profundamente humana, cheia de honestidade, e que não aceitou a falsidade.

A última vez que o vi foi recentemente. Estávamos em Lisboa para uma curta visita. Já tinha percebido que não estava bem. Falamos brevemente por telefone, mas foi preciso confirmar os pormenores com a filha dele. (Logo descobri que ele sofreu bastante só para lá chegar.) Estava sentado à porta da Baiuca, com muitos amigos ao seu redor. "Vou cantar" disse ele. A filha protestou, também eu. "Quero." Pediu desculpas da minha esposa por não ser capaz de cantar "Leio em teus olhos", que sempre cantava para ela. Ia cantar outra coisa, então pôs-se de pé. Num instante, a Baiuca e tudo que não era o meu amigo evaporou. Cantou "Senhora da Nazaré" do fundo da alma, com toda a força da vida, com muito mais força do que o corpo tinha. Depois saiu subitamente: estava gasto. Depois falamos para uns minutos, mas foi a última vez que o vi. Era tudo pelo fado, e tudo por amizade.

21 August 2012


For about the past year, two news outlets--the Luso-Americano and the Portuguese-American Journal--have been publishing some of my writing about the fado (and, occasionally, other Portuguese-related themes). Both have mentioned this fado blog, as well as the one I write in Portuguese. So, it's only fair that I say a bit about each of them!

The Luso-Americano is a Portuguese language print newspaper, founded in 1928 and published in Newark, New Jersey.  With the widest print distribution of any Portuguese-language newspaper in the USA, it covers Portuguese and Portugese-American news items. Lately, the journalist Ricky Durães has been writing some great stuff about the fado, particularly in the NY metro area, covering many of the area's larger and smaller fado performances and related events. Indeed, the Luso-Americano is probably the first best place to look for news and upcoming events on the fado (and other Portuguese music) along the east coast. For example, did you know that Ana Moura is coming to Durham, North Carolina on 29 March 2013, or that Deolinda will be in Chicago on 24 September?

I should also note that, in addition to news, the Luso-Americano publishes various essays and opinion pieces. These include an excellent, very long-running series written by Ferreira Moreno, centered on Portuguese culture and folklore. The paper also has an English language section. You can subscribe to receive it by post, or read a slightly delayed copy online. I am currently working on a Portuguese-language essay for them on the topic of contemporary poets and the fado.

The Portuguese-American Journal is a fairly recent endeavor, published in English. The journal is "dedicated to the Portuguese-American heritage with the purpose of informing and offering an insight into the Portuguese-American experience."Its editorial scope is broad, with new articles published frequently. It's available through Google News feed, as well as through its own web site. The most recent article I wrote for them is a review of Sandra Correia's new album, "Ao Vivo".

11 August 2012

More on "Fado&Piano"

Here's a very informative comment on the latest Maria Ana Bobone record, written by one of the readers of this blog, Aldemar Fernandes Parola. (Note: version in Portuguese is below.) I hope you enjoy it!

'In my opinion fado for voice and piano is not a new hypotesis. What is new in “Fado & Piano” is the fact that Maria Ana Bobone plays piano and sings simultaneously. Few singers have the knowledge, the ability and the art to play piano and sing simultaneously. Since fado and the majority of the portuguese traditional songs are a kind of ritual music, transmiting feelings and emotions, the control of the cadence is extremely important and to have control on the cadence nothing better than to have one person playing and singing.

'Piano was already used in her second CD, “Senhora da Lapa” as an accompaniment for the majority of the tracks but it was played by João Paulo, another virtuoso, composer of the beautiful melody of “Senhora da Lapa” score.

'In the first CD of Maria Ana Bobone, named “Luz Destino”, published in 1996, which was more audacious than “Fado & Piano” due to the arrangements with a barroque sonority made by Ricardo Rocha, she was accompanied at the harpsichord by João Paulo, at the portuguese guitar by Ricardo Rocha himself and in some scores at the contrabass by Mário Franco.

'May be “Fado & Piano” will be more popular than the previous CDs because at first sight it looks less sophisticated. But in my opinion this is not true. In spite of sophistication and simplicity being considered as opposed, all Maria Ana's CDs, including “Fado & Piano, are simultaneously simple and sophisticated. Is there something simpler than fado and piano? On the contrary is there something more sohisticated than voice conveing both excitement and joy in a quiet way accompanied on the piano with a harmonious arrangement ? Schubert's “lieder” are certainly good examples of the combination of simplicity and sophistication and I believe “Fado & Piano” is also another good example.'

--Aldemar Fernandes Parola

Versão em português: Na minha opinião fado para voz e piano não é uma hipótese nova. O que há de novo no "Fado & Piano" é o fato de Maria Ana Bobone tocar piano e cantar ao mesmo tempo. Poucos cantores têm o conhecimento, a habilidade e a a
rte de tocar piano e cantar simultaneamente. Como o fado e a maioria das canções tradicionais portuguesas são um tipo de música ritual, transmitindo sentimentos e emoções, o controle da cadência é extremamente importante e para ter o controle sobre a cadência nada melhor do que ter uma pessoa tocando e cantando.

Piano já foi usado como acompanhamento em seu segundo CD, "Senhora da Lapa" tendo sido interpretado por João Paulo, outro virtuoso, compositor da bela melodia da canção "Senhora da Lapa".

No primeiro CD de Maria Ana Bobone, chamado "Luz Destino", publicado em 1996, que foi mais audacioso do que o "Fado e Piano", devido aos arranjos com sonoridade barroca feitos por Ricardo Rocha, ela foi acompanhado ao cravo por João Paulo, à guitarra portuguesa pelo próprio Ricardo Rocha e em algumas das canções por Mário Franco ao contrabaixo.

O CD Fado & Piano de Maria Ana Bobone certamente será mais popular dos que os anteriores por uma única razão: aparenta ser menos sofisticado. Mas, na minha opinião isso não é verdade. Embora sofisticação e simplicidade sejam considerados como opostos, todos os CDs de Maria Ana, incluindo "Fado & Piano, são ao mesmo tempo simples e sofisticados. Existe algo mais simples do que voz acompanhada ao piano? Haverá algo mais sofisticado do que a voz transmitindo tanto emoção como alegria de uma forma serena acompanhada ao piano com um arranjo harmonioso? Os "Lieder" de Schubert são certamente bons exemplos da combinação de simplicidade e sofisticação e eu acredito que "Fado e Piano" também é outro bom exemplo.

31 July 2012

Fado and piano??? OK, maybe this one time!

Maria Ana Bobone has a new record out--fado and piano. I've heard this sort of thing before--or thought I had. I went once to hear a live performance with two guitarists, one pianist and one singer--all top-notch. Total disaster. Tonally, it was a three-way fight, but perhaps they hadn't done enough practicing to enable them to compose dialogue in real time. In any case, I've never heard the combination yield good results.

Until now, of course. Maria Ana Bobone has arrived with a new hypothesis: fado for voice and piano, accompanied on some tracks by a contrabass and/or (ahem) a guitar. The voice+piano combination is not so revolutionary, as Amália Rodrigues herself experimented with it, but that was different (this was work with Alain Oulman during recitals, and I believe the "formal" recorded output is pretty small.) There's also a theory that fado was "originally" performed with voice and piano, but that is an argument for another day!

Back to this record. Perhaps because Maria Ana Bobone is both playing and singing, I think the combination works perfectly well here. Admittedly, I've not heard the whole record, but--if the combination was going to fail--it would have failed on the tracks I heard. The piano playing is heartfelt, deeply steeped in the fado, and the voice is crystalline. Somehow I'll have to get my hands on a complete copy (looks like it's available through the US-based iTunes). For the moment, here's a video that showcases her art. If anybody has heard the whole record and wants to comment, please do!

Que Deus Me Perdoe

14 July 2012

Day 5 in Lisbon

Walking through the Alfama this evening, we stopped to talk with Carlos Macedo during one of his breaks at the Taverna del Rey. Macedo is known as a pretty serious guy, but those who have seen him live know that he has a humorous side. For example, during his recent visit in Newark, he sang "Zanguei-me com a minha sogra" ("I got mad at my mother-in-law"), a very dry and funny riff he wrote to the tune of "Zanguei-me com meu amor", the latter popularized by Amália Rodrigues. Unfortunately, this is not something he has ever recorded. During our conversation, he mentioned one of his lyrics--"Um governo à portuguesa"(lyrics here) that he has recorded--to the tune of "Uma casa portuguesa". As Carlos explained, the humoristic side of the fado has been around for quite a long time--though it has certainly fallen out of favor (along with political fado--a point that was strongly made by José Manuel Osório in many interviews). There are a few fadistas who sing exclusively humoristic fado these days, including the great Zequinha. We did not get to hear Carlos singing this night--but watch for a later report on the night that we did.

We (including my wife and children) then visited the Esquina d'Alfama. The elenco, after making a whirlwind and very successful tour of Europe (see poster), was a bit different than it was for that tour--but the vibe was just as good. On Portuguese guitar was Gentil Ribeiro (back to the Esquina after a sojourn that included the Bairro Alto), and on the viola, Júlio Garcia. For this trip, I planned next to nothing, and the improvisatory attitude was beginning to pay off. Pedro Galveias was there. Also singing were the stalwarts, Ricardo Mesquita and Lino Ramos, along with Cátia Garcia. The Esquina is a very informal and open place. The food and the fado are good, and there is no pressure put on you to eat and get out. While there do tend to be tourists there, they tend to be respectful and appreciative of the fado. The evenings start early at the Esquina, and there are always plenty of pleasant surprises--particularly early in the evening. It can get a bit rowdy at times, but once the fado starts getting serious, Lino or somebody else will calm down the crowd. All of these factors help make the Esquina a house that we visit at least a couple of times whenever we are in Lisbon.

Speaking of children and the fado, one of the many CDs I picked up in Lisbon was Saudade no Futuro.  This is a record performed entirely (music and singing) by younger Portuguese kids. There is alot of talent in this group, and it is used quite wisely. If you are interested in the fado, and want a way to introduce it to younger listeners, this is the record for you. My kids--who frankly get a bit tired of the fado at times--asked to hear this record repeatedly, and read the liner notes (full credits and everything) until they had settled on their most preferred singers and musicians. The CD is even available in mp3 format on Amazon (in the US!) if you search for the title "Fados Dos 8 Aos 17 Anos". Highly recommended (watch for a full review in the near future on the web site of the Portuguese-American Journal)

23 May 2012

Day 4 in Lisbon (revised and expanded)

O casal Jaime Pedrinho
In the morning I took my want list in hand and headed to the Feira da Ladra to buy some music. There is only one vendor I pay attention to--Jaime Padrinho. He is easy to find: his stall is always at the northern end of the market, and he is usually playing something by Amália Rodrigues (often very loud, often the same fado multiple times). Works like a charm. I have spent many hours there, and his method never fails: put on Amália singing "Estranha forma da vida" and the tourists will show up to ask "Who is this?" Within seconds they are buying a copy of "O melhor da Amália".

To the side of the CD table he has a small but very respectable selection of vinyl and cassettes. That is where the real action is. Sr. Padrinho has all the qualities of a great record seller: tasteful stock, understanding of the customer, the appropriate degree of detachment. In fact, it was he who first recommended that I listen to Artur Batalha. This time, he recommended an LP from Vasco Rafael. When I returned to the US, I put it on: this is a singer who had a very big, earnest sound. It's a top flight record in the castiço tradition.  I also picked up a 45 of Fernando Farinha--brilliant as always.

Later that evening, after many months of trying, the opportunity had finally arisen to interview Mário Raínho, an iconoclastic poet of the fado. Raínho has written lyrics for many singers, ranging from Fernando Maurício to Ana Moura, and is outspoken about the critical importance of poets and lyricists to the continued vitality of the fado. This importance is partly a consequence of the nature of the art form. The "fado tradicional" (traditional fado, or, perhaps more appropriately, the fado estrófico--or strophic fado--as the guitarist José Pracana has referred to it) consists of a smallish number of musics. The "fado tradicional" approach to the fado therefore requires new lyrics set to works within this corpus of music if the form is to survive, or at least not become stale. Another force at work here is the simple fact that there are lots of people who go out and sing multiple times every week--and many more who go out to here these same people every week. And when I say "every week", I mean it. Now, do you really want to hear the same three lyrics from the same singer every week? Hence, the poet.

Mário Raínho
Raínho has recently become involved with organizing fado at a small restaurant called "Pérola do Fado", (Pearl of the fado) and this is where we met to discuss his work. The interview produced a lot of material, though we only spoke for 30 minutes. One interesting tidbit: Mário began as a singer, who eventually wanted different lyrics to sing, and thus began his career as a poet. Pick up any current fado record, and the chances are good that at least one of his lyrics is included.

Miguel Ramos
The Pérola's location is "out"--not in Alfama, not in the Bairro Alto, not anywhere near the tourist track--but actually not at all far out of town. Maybe this is how it's going to be for a while: the fado is going to hide in the hills until the craziness over the UNESCO designation dies down. Judging by the results of this evening, if you're willing to venture just slightly beyond the standard confines, there are some beautiful moments to be had.

Pérola is divided into two spaces: café in the front, restaurant in the back. The fado happens in the back. Dinner was great and not at all expensive. The musicians for the evening were Paulo Jorge (gp); André Ramos (vb)--more evidence of the small world of the fado as he is the brother of the singer Miguel Ramos; João Moreira (vb); and, later, António Oliveira (vb).

As I learned, the singers and musicians were all essentially professional: many of them had "other jobs" but were here for the night to sing for each other, and for others with a very strong appreciation of the fado. The repertory and style of playing were nothing like what you would hear in the first hour or two at the typical fado joint: they got right to the heart of the matter.

Miguel Ramos was the first singer. He delivered a powerhouse performance--quite different from the subdued one I expected. Unfortunately, I do not have any recording whatsoever of his performance: I was too flabbergasted to do anything. Buy the record! Next was Ana Sofia Varela. Her voice was really not with it this evening: seemed like she had something perpetually stuck in her throat. Next was Jorge Aguiar, followed by Jorge Nunes (mp3) (the son of Jorge Fernando)--instantly recognizable by his voice.

Now an intervalo. As I ventured outside, Artur Batalha was just arriving. "It's the first time I've been here", he said. At some point I asked Mário if he could somehow squeeze Batalha into the lineup before we had to leave. He said he'd try. In truth, it was not a very fair request, as the house was full of fadistas who had been waiting for their turn to sing. But I was beginning to feel desperate. The next singers Nelson Lemos and  Sónia Santos (mp3). Here is a fairly recent video of her from RTP. Judge for yourself: I liked her quite a bit. Then that was it: we had to leave.

To give a flavor of his work, here is a translation of a short lyric of Mário's, most associated with Fernando Maurício, entitled "A minha oração" ("My prayer"). Many thanks to Mário himself for providing the lyrics and the translation.


19 May 2012

Day 3 in Lisbon

Jaime Nunes
Settling in to the groove... Visited the Tasca do Jaime for the first hour of the afternoon. The musicians were Paulo Silva (gp) and Carlos Fonseca (v), who were later joined by the owners' son, Duarte Nunes (v). They opened with a guitarrada. Jaime sang, followed by César Caixinho, João Soerio and Bruno Horta. Below are two videos from João and one from Bruno, respectively. Those who are familiar with João's work will notice a more refined style to his singing here, particularly in his attention to the lower end of his range, as well as a more relaxed and confident approach to the lyrics. The change is conscious. I am looking forward to a couple of musical surprises from João this year. He is sounding great.

Scroll down for the rest of the story from today...

Miguel Ramos at
Mesa de Frades
Later that evening I met with the singer and musician Miguel Ramos, to discuss his life and work in the fado, focusing in particular on his new CD, which he is in the midst of recording. This was a follow up from my earlier conversation with his brother, André--himself a musician. The interview is going to take a bit of time to write up, but I want to note a couple of things here. Miguel's record sounds very promising, with nearly all original lyrics (by various lyricists), and mostly all classic fado with a few musical fados. The personnel are top notch and varied. Our conversation covered his early years, including his time spent under the tutelage of Fernando Maurício, and his training and ongoing work as a musician and singer. I had an opportunity to hear him the following evening at the Pérola de Fado--but more about that in the next writeup!

13 May 2012

Day 2 in Lisbon

Now I understand why, during our year in Lisbon, I did not keep a continuous blog: there is simply too much happening to cover, and there is certainly not enough time to do everything we'd like to do.

Last night we met a friend in the Alfama to hear some fado--destination unknown. We simply could not decide where to go: we wanted a decent dinner, plus fado, but did not want to pay 30+ euros per person for the privilege. He suggested dinner at a local restaurant, one that our friend, Tô Lisboa, knows well. We entered and to our surprise, there in the corner, was the great guitarist José Pracana. José Pracana has been in the fado for a long time (see this evidence and a short biography in Portuguese). The last time I met him was also by accident: on a plane from Boston to the Açores. Also in the restaurant was the viola player José Nunes.
José Pracana (l) and José Nunes (r)
After a short conversation with Sr. Pracana, he and Sr. Nunes played a Coimbra fado (sung by Sr. Nunes, see the video below), then a young woman sang "Os meus olhos são dois círios", then a short guitarrada. Sr. Pracana told me that he is going to be taking part in the second fado festival of Madrid. The program looks excellent: they are showing two films by Diogo Varela Silva (Fado Celeste and O Rei Sem Coroa). I covered some of his work in a recent article in the Luso-Americano. Sr. Pracana is going to be giving a lecture/demonstration on the fado, addressing music, lyrics and instrumentation. Lots of other great stuff is going to be happening. I hope to meet with Sr. Pracana during the coming week, so perhaps there will be more information.

Next stop was Sr. Fado, where the musicians were Eduardo Rodrigues (guitarra portuguesa) and Duarte Santos on the viola. Duarte began the evening with an explanation of the fado (in English) for the audience, most of whom were not Portuguese. He discussed first the instrumentation of the classic set-up, then the "traditional" versus "musical" fado. Unfortunately, I was not able to record this mini-lecture. If I can get Duarte to recount it for me, watch for the post here. The singers we heard were our friend, Tô Lisboa, then Oudete Miranda, Nuno de Aguiar, and Ana Marina.

[video to come in the next day or so]

Now what? Tô and Nuno de Aguiar left for the Tasca do Chico in the Alfama after they sang. By the time we walked by there, it was too full to bother trying to enter. The Grupo Sportivo Adicense, up from the Esquina d'Alfama, was having a fado night, so we stopped there (the last time I was there it was to hear Rodrigo, courtesy of the super-duper fado fan. João Braga (gp) and Chico Borges (v) were the musicians. We heard Inês Ribeiro, Rui Costa and Alice Nunes. As we were arriving, there was some arguing over the order of singing, and a couple of fadistas left in a huff. Floating in the background the entire time was Zé António.

During the break, Artur Batalha walked in. It's hard to describe what happens to a room like this when a very established fadista enters. The place got a little bit quiet. As everybody around here knows, with the closing of Os Ferreiras, Batalha no longer has a regular gig. That's a lot of talent floating around, waiting to land. The super-duper fado fan (doesn't sing, doesn't play, knows all fados and fadistas, is always there at the right place and the right time) leans over to me and says, "Batalha. My favorite." Somebody managed to corral Batalha and Zé António into a photo. I saw my chance and jumped. These two singers have a common history but diverging paths.

Artur Batalha (l) and Zé António (r)
Date Unknown
May 2012

We were then put in a tough predicament. But as we left we heard somebody say something like "Batalha was going to sing for a couple of friends, but they just left, so no." Thinking that Batalha would be singing, we came back. However, the next singer was not Batalha but Vítor Rodrigues (who I really like). We stayed for his three fados then left. So, we'll never know whether Batalha sang, or what, or the heights he reached this time.

New flash! The videographer 4FadoLisbon has posted two videos of Batalha from last night, along with those of a number of others. The videos are here and here. The other videos are also good (e.g., here is Quim Cigano). <

Taxi home, and that was the end of the night.

12 May 2012

Day 1 in Lisbon

Pedro Galveias
First stop, Esquina de Alfama, where there have been a few changes. As we walked up from the Largo do Chaffariz do dentro, I thought..."I recognize that voice." It was Pedro Galveias. He was there substituting for Ricardo Mesquita. We managed also to hear Ivone Dias, Daniela Giblott (worth seeking out) and Lino Ramos--in duet with Pedro on "Lucinda Camareira". The musicians were Tiago Morna (gp) and Júlio Garcia (v). Pedro told me that he has begun working on a new record (lots of surprises in store there). We talked a little bit about the closure of Os Ferreiras, which really is a major blow to the fado tradition. This of course means that Artur Batalha is now without a steady venue, which raises the question--Where is he?

We had dinner and then wandered around the Alfama. Carlos Macedo and Jerónimo Mendes were taking a break from their work at the Taverna d'El Rey (here is an interesting photo with the two of them and Nathalie Pires, a recent contributor to this blog). These are two top flight musicians, particularly when they are playing together.

At Sr. Vinho, the house was completely full with one group of Spaniards having a pre-wedding celebration for one of their friends (a woman wearing an electric purple wig). At 22:00, they hadn't even started playing--too busy taking care of dinner arrangement. The Spaniards were really raucous. We'll stop by there tonight (Saturday).

Things were quiet at Mesa de Frades (normal for that hour). I foolishly mistook Miguel Ramos' brother for Miguel Ramos, but he was quite diplomatic about it. Both are musicians and look very similar to each other.

I said the first stop of the night was the Esquina, but it was really O Faia in Bairro Alto. This place (and the Tasca do Chico) are to me the only two reasons to visit the Bairro Alto for fado. O Faia at the moment has an incredible group of singers: Anita Guerreiro, Lenita Gentil, Ricardo Ribeiro (and, I think, António Rocha). We also passed by the Tasca do Chico in the Bairro Alto, where I learned from the owner that, starting next month, they will be having "Youth fado"--with younger kids who sing or play the fado. Should be great. It was indeed Chico who we saw later in the night at the Tasca do Chico in the Alfama, delivering some of the supplies for the night.

The Current Lineup of the Esquina d'Alfama

09 May 2012

António Zambujo in the USA--Right Now!

António Zambujo is in the US for three dates:

Tonight (May 9) in Cambridge, MA at the Regattabar;
Tomorrow (May 10) Naragansett, RI at the Atlantic House; and
Saturday (May 12) in New York City at the World Music Institute.

Go if you can!

Earlier today I interviewed him briefly for an article in the Portuguese-American Journal. Should be coming out today or so.

07 May 2012

Vamos aos fados!

--"Can you guys go home, quietly?"
--"Yes sir we can. But right now we are not going home..."

from Humores ao Fado e à Guitarra (bilingual edition)

I will be in Lisbon for a couple of weeks this month. Watch this space for updates on the fado. I have a couple of projects in mind that I want to accomplish while there.

If you happen to be reading this and have any recommendations on fado houses to visit, let me know in the comments. There are a number of places I plan to visit--stalwarts like Sr. Fado in Alfama, and maybe even O Faia. There are also some that I'd like to visit (Sr. Fado in Alcochete; Pérolas do Fado, which is Mário Rainho's new venture). Others that I'd really like to visit but that are too far away (Ricardo Ribeiro in Figueira da Foz). Some, unfortunately, are gone--like Os Ferreiras (or this). The fado is poorer without them.

19 April 2012

Biography of Ricardo Ribeiro

{Note: with Ricardo Ribeiro's permission, I'm posting this English-language version of his biography. If you have a chance, check out his latest CD, "Porta do Coração", which I've written about elsewhere on this site, as well as the CD "Em Português" discussed below. Other articles about Ricardo from this site are here. An English-language translation of an interview with him is here.} 

Ricardo Ribeiro was born in Lisbon. He debuted in public at the age of 12, in The “Ajuda” Academy in the neighborhood where he grew up. In this first show he was accompanied by the guitarist Carlos Gonçalves and the violist/classical guitarist, José Inácio who became one of the major references in his career. His main influences are: FERNANDO MAURICIO, MANUEL FERNANDES and ALFREDO MARCENEIRO, all of which are old-style traditional fado singers.

"When I first heard Fernando Maurício, his singing was so intense that it made me feel a part of the story he was telling."

At the age of 15, he joined the cast of the restaurant "Os Ferreiras" in Lisbon - sharing the Fado evenings beside his master FERNANDO MAURICIO and ADELINO DOS SANTOS (guitarist). Through this experience and by studying everything that involves Fado, Ricardo Ribeiro gained a great knowledge of the traditional style of Fado, specifically, the old-style traditional Fado. Later he was part of the cast of the typical restaurant "Nónó" in Bairro Alto, which opened the doors for him to the most important Fado Houses in Lisbon.

  • In 2001 at the invitation of the French Ministry of Culture, he attended the festival in ALU, at the House of Maria Casares (Southern France).
  • He participated in the tribute disc to Amalia Rodrigues by the editor World Connection.
  • In 2004 he released his first album - "RICARDO RIBEIRO" edited by CNM (Anthology Collection).
  • In 2005 at the invitation of director Ricardo Pais, he was a part of the show "CABELO BRANCO É SAUDADE" at the National Theatre of S. João beside CELESTE RODRIGUES, ARGENTINA SANTOS and ALCINDO DE CARVALHO, which was shown in some of the most important theaters and concert halls in Europe: Cité de la Music (Paris), Teatro de la Abadia(Madrid) Frankfurt Opera, Theatre Mercandante (Naples) or Casa da Música (Oporto).
  • He was part of the cast of the famous film "Fados" by director Carlos Saura.
  • He has collaborated in projects with some of the biggest names in Portuguese music: JOÃO GIL, RÃO KYAO and PEDRO JÓIA.
  • With the lute player RABIH ABOU KHALIL he arouses the attention of international critics.
The album “EM PORTUGUES” of the Lebanese musician has a repertoire fully interpreted in Portuguese. The interpretation of Ricardo Ribeiro received many acclaims and the very best compliments. This album was released in 2008 by ENJA RECORDS. All compositions by RABIH ABOU KHALIL are from poems by SILVA TAVARES, MARIO RAINHO,  TIAGO TORRES DA SILVA amongst others. "EM PORTUGUES" was voted one of the 10 best albums "Top of the World" in the British magazine "Songlines," which refers to Ricardo Ribeiro as "... the rising star of Lisbon Fado".

 In the words of RABIH ABOU KHALIL , Ricardo Ribeiro as a singer cannot be expressed better: “Working with Ricardo is an exhilarating experience. A musician; so instinctive and natural, so deeply rooted in his culture that at all times he manages to transcend it. A singer so unusual; he never attempts to stand alone, but connects with the musicians, never missing a beat, inspiring them and letting them equally inspire him. Ricardo Ribeiro is not a singer. Or, to be more precise, not only a singer. There is a very important element of expression in Arabic music called “Tarab”. A term not easily translatable, it describes the feeling of being emotionally moved by music. Perhaps the closest to it would be the Portuguese expression of “Saudade”. A singer who can make his listeners feel “Tarab” is a “Mutrib”. Ricardo is not a singer, he is a mutrib. Ricardo Ribeiro is not just a cantor, he is a saudador...”

He participated with two themes in the film "RIO TURVO" directed by EDGAR PERA alongside Teresa Salgueiro and Nuno Melo. In 2010 he participated in "FILME DO DESASSOSEGO", a film directed by JOÃO BOTELHO and based entirely on the heteronym “Bernardo Soares” created by the Famous Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa. In this film Ribeiro sang two songs, one of which was played and composed by him.

However, it is with Fado that he truly identifies himself: “Fado is all that happens. When we laugh or cry when we remember or forget. When we love or hate.”

  • 1996- 2nd place in The Grande Noite do Fado, Lisbon. 1997 and 1998 – 1st Place in The Grande Noite do Fado, Lisbon. 2005 - Male Award Revelation by “The Amalia Rodrigues Foundation”. 2006 - Award of Revelation by “Casa da Imprensa”. 2011 - Award for best interpreter awarded by “The Amália Rodrigues Foundation”.
  • "DOOR OF THE HEART", the latest album by Ricardo Ribeiro released on April 19th, 2010 went directly to the 5th place in top national sales. It was produced by Ricardo Ribeiro, with the collaboration of Pedro de Castro (Portuguese guitar) and Jaime Santos (Viola/Classical Guitar).

Currently Ricardo Ribeiro sings in the Famous Fado House, “O Faia” (www.ofaia.com) and the Typical and Charismatic Fado House “Mesa de Frades” (www.facebook.com/pages/Mesa-de-Frades) set in a 17th Century Chapel in Alfama, a traditional historic quarter of Lisbon.

Ricardo Ribeiro is more than just a Fado singer. Currently he is working on a project with the ingenious guitarist, Pedro Jóia, accompanied by, the greatly talented Rui Borges Maia(flute), Yuri Daniel (bass) and Vicky Marques (drums). This project transcends Fado as it takes us on a journey with the dynamic quintet that spans the musical worlds of the Mediterranean and the wealth that they carry.  The combination of Fado, Flamenco and the music of the Maghreb are treated with all the passion that emanates from their common matrix.

08 April 2012

Fado in Newark: Clube dos Açores

Full House
The fadista and musician Carlos Macedo visited Newark, NJ yesterday (7 April) as part of a Grande Noite de Fado, which also involved about twenty other singers and musicians, including eight medical students from the University of Porto. The impresario (and an editor of the Luso-Americano) Luís Pires organized the event, and served as the emcee, keeping a steady hand on a night that--in less capable hands--could have dragged on until two or three in the morning. There were many highlights, plenty of revelations, a couple of awkward moments, and a lot of good fado. In other words, this was the kind of evening that is normally very difficult to find here in the United States. But as Carlos Macedo said from the stage, "This is Portugal."

J. Silva, P. Pimentel, V. Ferreira, C. Macedo
Given the variety of singers, styles, music and lyrics performed last night, the musicians deserve special recognition. These were José Silva (guitarra portuguesa), Viriato Ferreira (viola), and Pedro Pimentel (contra bass). My understanding is that they are based in the Rhode Island area, and travel throughout the northeast playing with various singers. They were rock solid.

Part One
The evening began with fado singers who, as Luís Pires said, happen to be located in the USA. But, said Pires, "They are not Luso-American fadistas--they are fadistas." As Luís was introducing the night, he quoted from the lyrics to Lisboa Antiga, which caused somebody way in the back to break out spontaneously into that fado. The entirety of the room quickly joined in, and we are on our way (as the Portuguese say, "Vamos embora!").

Luís Pires
Here's my list of singers and what they sang.
  • Zeca Santos: "O Embuçado", sung dramatically in an equally dramatic gold jacket.
  • Mena Leandro, singing a fado menor of Porto.
  • Kimberly Gomes: "Amor de mel, amor de fel". Kimberly is a 20 year-old from Newark with a great voice and plenty of confidence--despite this having been her first time singing at the Clube dos Açores. Watch for her on the local scene, particularly as her talent matures.
  • Elizabeth Maria: "Maria Madalena" (the first of a few songs that reminded everyone of Holy Week).
  • Nathalie Pires: "Meu amor marinheiro". Nathalie is an established singer in the fado scene (in the US and abroad). Based on my conversation with Kimberly Gomes and others, Nathalie is now giving back to a younger generation what she has learned from throughout her experience as a fadista. Great to see.
  • Erminia Silva: Rosa enjeitada.
  • Carlos Furtadi: a young man with Açorean roots.
  • Manuel Renato: "Velho Marinheiro", with lyrics by the great contemporary poet Mário Rainho--and the entire crowd singing along with chorus, "Mas que é marinheiro!"
  • Salomé Carinal: "Os Búzios", a recently minted staple of the fado.
  • Jorge Quaresma: "Gaivota", sung with plenty of "coração, sentimento e alma" (heart, sentiment and soul) by a veteran of the Newark fado scene.
  • Pedro Botas: "Guitarra triste", by a young singer who has just released his first record. 
  • David Couto sang "Naufrágio" in homage to Amália Rodrigues.
  • Tony Quim, who sang a fado carriche in the grand style. This is a singer I would willingly travel to hear again.
Part Two
The Tuna Académica of Porto, comprised of eight young people, all medical students, took the stage to sing the fado of Coimbra. The group, whose formal name is "Grupo de Fados de Medicina do Porto", has been active for more than twenty years, and travels to Portuguese communities worldwide.

The current group consists of three players of the Portuguese guitar (tuned for the Coimbra fado), two players of the viola do fado, and three singers. In a brief interview before the show, they explained that the classic repertory of the Coimbra fado resonates most strongly with the Portuguese communities abroad. They were a very capable group. Indeed, one of the audience members told me he felt that one of the singers could certainly abandon his career as a doctor and find success as a fado singer. Later in the evening, as the entire audience sung along with the chorus of the "Balada de Despedida", I saw clearly what he meant. The group's repertoire also includes three or four original compositions. Look for them on Facebook under their official name.

Part Three
Carlos Macedo, the headliner of the night, traveled from Portugal to sing and to play the Portuguese guitar. While his style is subtle, it commands attention and respect, and is certainly his own. In his long career, he has achieved a great deal of recognition as a singer, musician and songwriter. After more than 25 years as the house guitarist at Senhor Vinho in Lisbon, he now performs at Taverna d'El Rey in the Alfama--an intimate and storied venue.

Tonight he entered singing from the back of the room, surprising everyone. His first song, "Quero ir à minha terra" (with lyrics by José Luís Gordo and music by Carlos Macedo), was sung in a very relaxed style, and followed by a mix of his own and others' works. Among the more notable performances were "Avé Maria fadista". Along the way, he quite unexpectedly made reference to the "fado humorístico", or humoristic fado. As he said, "it's a playful thing--but it's true." Now, the word for mother-in-law in Portuguese is "sogra". He took the theme of the song, "Zanguei-me com meu amor" ("I became angry with my lover"), and turned it into "Zanguei-me com a minha sogra"--an uproarious lyric of his own authorship that was all the more special for never having appeared on one of his recordings. After this, and perhaps in order to bring order back to the house, his next song mined the religious vein of the fado. It was "Igreja de Santo Estevão", a fado made classic by Fernando Maurício but here sung in Macedo's own style.

During the show he also discussed his love for his wife, and recounted that, when she was diagnosed with cancer, he said that he would undertake a pilgrimage to Fátima in the hope that she would be cured. Indeed she was cured, and he went on to write a book about the experience. He then sang his own composition "Ser peregrino" ("To be a pilgrim"), with lyrics that describe how the pilgrim becomes closer to God by undertaking the pilgrimage. It was a deeply moving moment, and a fitting way to encapsulate a show held on Holy Saturday.