Artist Profiles: Helder Moutinho

Helder Moutinho

A rising star in the new fado generation, Moutinho became popular in the 1990s after releasing his first album called Sete Fados e Alguns Cantos.

Helder Moutinho was born in 1969, in Oeiras, where the Tagus River meets the Ocean, and maybe it was from this daily intimacy with the sea that came the major characteristic of his career: a multiple capacity of understanding and living his music, by singing, composing, producing, managing, constantly probing wider horizons, of solid and neat banks and rich, steady stream. From his family of old fado lovers, and from accompanying them to the traditional fado circles, he got not only his taste for this kind of song, but above all his determination to sing it, and so entering in fado’s unique universe.

It was in Moutinho’s late teens that, after getting familiar to other musical styles, fado began to take an increasing importance in his life. This is perhaps the reason to explain his enduring, inevitable relation with Lisbon. After the lifelong calling of the sea, now is Tagus River that requests him, revealing him Lisbon, the city of passions, of poetic and nostalgic nights, of high flying gulls that he will forever on sing and write about. He initially sang only to friends, but his gift could not remain hidden, and he soon got his first invitation to sing in one of Bairro Alto’s fado bars.

By this time, Moutinho’s all latent talents began to show themselves. In reunions of fado singers, all night long, among other fado lovers, he began to sing his own lyrics that he would later include in his first album, Sete Fados e Alguns Cantos (Seven Fados and Some Songs).

Concurrently, Helder Moutinho began revealing himself in other and important activities: those of a manager, agent and music editor. The transition from singing in fado bars and in concerts – one must mention his participation in projects organized by Lisbon City Hall and included in “Lisbon 94 – European Capital of Culture”, the Festima Festival at “Expo’ 98”, along with performances throughout Portugal and abroad – is a process that Moutinho himself can’t explain – but soon the stress-free approach of his beginnings turned to become a deeper, compromised one.

His first record, released by Ocarina in 1999, got flattering notice from magazine “Strictly Mundial” (of the “World Music International Exhibition”), and very good reviews from Portuguese and international press.

Moutinho is one of a very select group of singers who manage their own fado venue, or “Casa de Fados” (fado house). In this case, the “casa” is “Maria da Mouraria,” where fado’s first great singer, Maria Severa, lived in more than 150 years ago. It’s a mythical place at the center of a bustling community of fado singers, musicians, lyricists and composers.

Discography:

Sete Fados e Alguns Cantos (Ocarina, 1999)
Luz de Lisboa (Ocarina, 2004)
Que Fado É Este Que Trago (Farol Música, 2008)
1987 (Valentim de Carvalho, 2013)
O Manual Do Coracao (HMMusica, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.
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