Fado, The Soul Of Portugal

A friend sent me a link to a video of Amalia Rodrigues  who was probably the most famous Fado singer that ever lived, singing a song called Solidao  which was recorded in 1969, so whilst the video quality is pretty awful, the sound is sublime.

I have no words for the quality of fado….   And I have never worked out why a whole nation should identify itself with these extremely depressing songs from the working class sections of Lisbon.   However that may be, the heartfelt songs that Amalia sings never fail to move me deeply, even though I only understand about 6 words in Portuguese.

On another level, this Portuguese song (Grândola Vila Morena – sorry, no idea what it means) was broadcast as the signal for start of the 1975 revolution. The army staged a coup and introduced democracy. It still has tremendous potency in Portugal even now. Joan Baez opened her concert in Portugal with it and brought the house down.

However, Fado is and always will be a sort of urban folk music, rooted in the working class sections of Lisbon, where you can still find cafes where people simply get up if moved to, and improvise songs….  as in the following videos.

Or as here….

Of course as with every sort of music, there are loads of variants to Fado, such as the version sung by Cesária Évora from Cape Verde (see my earlier post about her – click here).

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Cesária Évora – A Great Cape Verdean Singer

I am sitting here, listening to an amazing concert on good old Youtube.  It is A full concert of the superb Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora – apparently also known as the Barefoot Diva owing to her habit of performing with bare feet.   Be that as it may, this unremarkable looking, dumpy small woman, at the time the concert I am watching was recorded, was in her 60’s and yet had the voice of a woman in the full flowering of her youth.   A wonderful warm and gentle voice she had.


Sadly she died in 2011, but before that she had an amazing career as a singer.

Not really much to be said about her, except click on the link below, sit back and enjoy listening to, and watching a real artist at work…  And be glad that in reality it is not necessary for a woman singer to behave like a cross between a pole dancer and a stripper to be a success.

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If you did sit back and give this amazing woman – and her equally superb band – the attention that was her due, and enjoyed it too please share any thoughts you might have about her with us here.