18 September 2013

You and me and fado

O Fado em Movimento
Nuno Saraiva
I wanted to make more fado happen in the US, and I convinced my friend Feligénio Medeiros to help. The consequences of this decision pushed all my fado writing (including this page) to the side for months. But now our efforts are close to bearing fruition. We've secured a number of sponsors, and have just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds.

We began with very lofty aims: the fado as a bridge between communities--especially Portuguese communities--in the US and in Portugal. Neither of us was interested in making money off the endeavor. My own inspirations are the many individuals in Lisbon (like Tony Loretti) who organize fado events because they feel the fado brings people together like nothing else. Along the way Feligénio and I have come face-to-face with some hard (but not insurmountable) financial realities, but we have also found that there are lots of other like-minded people who want to make the fado happen because it should.

Feligénio and I formed a nonprofit corporation, "Portuguese/American Cultural Exchange," specifically for this purpose. We wanted to reach and people and help them connect through fado performances and lots of other activities, like workshops and appearances at schools in the areas where the artists are performing. Luís Pires and José Pracana graciously agreed to serve on our board.

Rodrigo Costa Félix
We convinced Rodrigo Costa Félix to be the first fadista to work with us. He is a dynamic guy: driven and modern, but also deeply versed in the tradition of the fado. He is coming with a fado dream team: Marta Pereira da Costa on the guitarra portuguesa and Pedro Pinhal on the viola do fado. Marta is a classically trained musician--and former professional civil engineer--who decided to pursue the fado full time. The complementary female voices are the US-based fadistas Nathalie Pires (who has written previously for this blog), Catarina Avelar, Kimberly Gomes and Fátima Santos. All four are  accomplished singers, with different histories and tastes, suggesting that the fado can indeed flourish outside Portugal. Marta and Pedro will be joined by one more US-based artist, the musician Pedro Pimentel on the viola baixa. All of us look forward to hearing the dynamic that emerges within this small nucleus of artists as they play throughout the northeast US.

Marta Pereira da Costa
As word has gotten out about this endeavor, we have received help from a wide range of people and organizations--despite my many missteps! The Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at University of Massachusetts/Lowell saw how our mission complemented theirs and agreed to host the kickoff concert. The Boston office of the Portuguese Consul-General--together with the Camões Institute-- helped us make connections in Portuguese diplomatic circles and beyond.  SATA airlines agreed to  sponsor the artists' transatlantic travel. The illustrator Nuno Saraiva developed our logo and official poster. And then there are all the people who want to help simply because they love the fado. Despite all the help, this is a complex and expensive endeavor. If you want to contribute (and receive some nice benefits), please consider making a donation through our Kickstarter campaign.

These artists will be performing in alot of different places, from Portuguese social clubs and restaurants to high profile nightclubs.  All the dates and venues currently booked are here--with more to come.

Feligénio has done this sort of thing before, but not me. Normally, I am sitting in my office. If I go to Lisbon and hear the fado, I try to be as unobtrusive as possible. But I am excited at the prospect of seeing people at the shows, how they react, and how the artists react to them and to each other. It'll be two intense weeks, but I hope the first of many more.

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