Artist Profiles: Custodio Castelo

Custodio Castelo

Custódio Castelo, was born in Almeirim on the 23rd of December 1996. At the age of seven he built his first musical instrument from which came his first sounds and at thirteen he was given his first real instrument, an acoustic guitar. He joined some popular Portuguese music groups and rock bands.

At sixteen, after listening to recordings of Amalia Rodrigues, he discovered the sound of the Portuguese guitar and since then it has been his preferred instrument.

From a young age Castelo was considered a prodigy for his audacious ans different approach to the Portuguese guitar and his talent has been recognized by the most demanding fadistas, invited to accompany many of the grate names in traditional fado such as D. Vicente da Camara, Manuel de Almeida, Fernando Farinha, Cidalia Moreira among others.

At 18 he wrote his first composition and at 20 was invited by Jorge Fernando to make his first studio recording. This was the beginning of a musical partnership which continues today. (Custodio Castelo has recorded all his fado records with Jorge Fernando and together they have recorded and produced numerous works by other artists such as Mariza, Camane, Maria da Fe, Goncalo Salgueiro, Fernando Mauricio, Argentina Santos, Antologia do Mais Triste Fado among many others.)

He accompanied Nuno da Camara Pereira for four years and recorded with the Lithuanian Symphony Orchestra.

An invitation arose to record  Garras dos Sentidos with Misia. Custodio became her principle accompanist for 2 years. A further invitation followed to record with Camane, Na linha da Vida, and then a tour with Camane and Carlos Do Carmo.

He accompanied Amalia Rodrigues on her last American tour and presented his solo project at the invitation of Pedro Caldeira Cabral at Expo 98. Also in 1998, Castelo became mentor to the Cristina Branco project, exposing his genius as a composer, producer, arranger and instrumentalist to international audiences.

This project resulted in seven recordings and numerous tours throughout the world. The first of these recordings is Live (1997) followed by Murmurios (1998) that was distinguished in France with the prize, Choc de L’Annee du Monde de la Musique, in the World Music category. The following year, Post-Scriptum was awarded the same prize.

In 2000,  O Descobridor was released; his most important and daring work as a composer. The record is wholly dedicated to the work of the Dutch Poet Jan Jacob Slauerhoff and composed entirely by Custodio Castelo, rising to prominence with first place in the top composers for that year. O Descobridor went platinum in Holland and its themes were later orchestrated by Bob Zimerman.

In 2001 Corpo Iluminado arrived on the market, a gold record in Holland and Belgium, followed by Sensus (2003), a gold record in Holland, and Ulisses (2005).

Castelo accompanied Mafalda Arnauth at The Royal Hope Charity Gala with Sarah Brightman, the Royal Ballet Placido Domingo and Joaquin Cortes.

His versatility has never allowed him to be solely a fado accompanist, he has never been chained to the forms of fado, having been exposed to diverse influences as an adolescent and bringing to the Portuguese guitar his personal tastes for other musical genres, primarily the tango (Piazolla).

With the Cristina Branco Project, Castelo has achieved world renown for his innovative and daring  music. He is recognized for a certain irreverence in his approach to the themes and the creation of a new environment for the traditional fados and by the fusion of the Portuguese Guitar with other sounds, having shared the stage with numerous musicians and singers from other areas. Richard Galliano (accordion), Arrigo Cappelletti (piano), Andre Dequech (piano), Daniele di Bonaventura (bandoneon), David Zacaria (cello), Ben Wolf (double bass), Leonardo Amuedo (classical guitar), Olga Pratz (piano), Carmen Linares, Ana Salazar…

As a soloist, Castelo has taken his sound and his brilliant compositions to the most highly regarded music festivals in the world: Festival de Belo Horizonte (Brazil), World Music Festival of Philadelphia (USA), International Festival de Rabat (Morocco), North Sea Jazz Festival (Dan Hag, Haia), Festival du Sud (France)…

In 2004, Castelo underwent unexpected surgery for a rupture to the ligaments in his right shoulder. Due the seriousness of this injury he appeared to be facing a premature end to a brilliant career. At this very difficult time, for someone to whom their music is their life, Castelo reunited various musicians and friends who had always accompanied him, Jorge Fernando, Alexandre Silva, Fernando Maia, Marino de Freitas, Miguel Carvalhinho, Carlos Manuel Proenca, Carlos Velez, Carlos Garcia, Filipe Larsen, and went into the studio with the purpose of recording his work of many years, achieving this with great physical difficult, in a tense climate, as a farewell to his guitar.

Thus was born Tempus, a marvelous record full of sentiments and of an irreproachable quality, which has never been available in Portugal.

However, destiny did not wish Castelo to be separated from the great love of his life, the Portuguese Guitar, and after some months away and a difficult and remarkable recovery he returned to the stage at the beginning of 2005 to record works by Jorge Fernando, Goncalo Salgueiro, Raquel Tavares, Joao Chora, Ana Moura…

With Ana Moura and Jorge Fernando, Castelo was been invited by Tim Ries to record two tracks (Brown Sugar and No Expectation) for the second volume of The Rolling Stones project.

Custodio Castelo divides his time between his careers as a soloist, a composer and producer; he is mentor to the project Encores Fado, where the Portuguese Guitar invited the voice of Margarida Guerreiro to sing unreleased pieces by Cecilia Meireles, Amalia Rodrigues, Fernando Pessoa, David Mourao Ferreira, Pedro Homem de Mello, in a journey between the traditional and contemporary, where the dance of free expression is prominent.


Tempus Guitarra Portuguesa (Ovacao, 2007)
The Art of the Portuguese Fado Guitar (ARC Music, 2011)
Inventus (ARC Music, 2012)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart.

Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, and Music of the World.


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