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.

Carlos Macedo em Newark