Tag Archives: Portugal

Artist Profiles: Danças Ocultas

Danças Ocultas – Photo by Pedro Claudio

Danças Ocultas is an ensemble comprising four accordionists from Agueda near Porto, in Portugal. The quartet is among the most innovative and most exciting representatives of contemporary Portuguese music. Their concept is based on tranquil, lyrical, almost traditional music, performed with only four diatonic accordions.

The quartet’s name, Hidden Dances, has nothing to do with mysterious domains but instead means that Dancas Ocultas play music for dances that have yet to be invented. Portuguese fado plays a minor role in the ensemble’s sound; the band’s inspiration comes instead from traditional village music, Tango Nuevo and the chamber music exemplified by the Russian Terem Quartet.

Dancas Ocultas neither engage in virtuosity competitions, nor do they play pure folk music. “Impressionist Folk” is perhaps the best definition for this timeless art music: minimalist, thoughtful sound designs full of unanticipated turns and gracious melancholy.

One of the first supporters of Danças Ocultas was Gabriel Gomes, the accordionist of Portugal’s most famous world music band Madredeus. He encouraged them to explore their own sound worlds.

Dancas Ocultas’ collaboration with choreographer Paul Ribeiro and the Gulbenkian Ballet, regular appearances at international festivals and a highly acclaimed showcase at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) in 2010 have resulted in wide international recognition.

The line-up includes Artur Fernandes on diatonic accordion; Francisco Miguel on diatonic accordion; Filipe Cal on diatonic accordion; and Filipe Ricardo on diatonic accordion.

Discography:

Danças Ocultas (EMI VC, 1996)
(EMI VC, 1998)
Travessa da Espera (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2002)
Pulsar (Magic Music, 2004)
Tarab (Numerica, 2009)
Alento (iplay / Galileo MC, 2011)
Arco, EP (Uguru, 2014)
Amplitude (Uguru/Galileo Music, 2016)
Dentro desse mar (Galileo Music, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Diabo a Sete

Diabo a Sete

Diabo a Sete is a Portuguese folk-rock fusion group established in Coimbra since 2003. The group has a long career, performing in various stages in Portugal and abroad, participating in important festivals associated with world music.

Diabo a Sete delves into the rhythms, melodies and instruments of traditional Portuguese roots incorporating new contemporary approaches, with a dynamic show where Lusitanian lyricism can be heard as much as feeling the energy of traditional festivals.

With three albums released and to prepare a new album of original songs, his music has received very good reviews both nationally and internationally.

Ther lineup includes Celso Bento on flutes and gaita-de-foles (bagpipe), Eduardo Murta on electric bass; Luísa Correia on guitar; Miguel Cardina on drums; Pedro Damasceno on bandolim, cavaquinho, concertina and low whistle; and Sara Vidal on vocals; Celtic harp, adufe and Galician tambourine.

Discography:

Parainfernália (2007)
tarAra ‎(Estúdios da acert, 2011)
Figura De Gente ‎(Sons Vadios, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Maria Emília

Maria Emília

Maria Emília was born in São Paulo, Brazil, but always had a strong connection to fado. Her Portuguese grandfather introduced fado to Maria Emília and her father.

She moved from Brazil to Portugal at a young age, and began singing fado early at Taberna do Ganso and other well-known venues in the Minho region.

Althoug she returned to Brazil and sang in the Alfama dos Marinheiros, Maria Emília had a longing for Portugal and fado. She returned to Portugal and began her career as fadista. She performed at the most iconic fado houses and toured Brazil, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.

Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a steadfast devotion not only to the music’s deepest traditions but also to its expressive possibilities. Her album Casa de Fado features bittersweet fados such as “Perfeito Pecado” and “Sou um Fado desta Idade”, as well as emotive classics such as “Um dia cheguei-me a ti” and “Agora.”

Discography:

Casa de fado (EMI, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Ana Sofia Varela

Ana Sofia Varela

Ana Sofia Varela Fernandes, better known as Ana Sofia Varela, was born in Lisbon on March 28, 1977).

She was a finalist in RTP’s contest “Selecção Nacional” and later performed in Festival RTP da Canção in 1995.

In 1997, Carlos Zel invited her to perform at Lisbon’s fado houses. She began a collaboration with Mário Pacheco and was a regular act at his Fado club.

Ana Sofia Varela participated in António Chainho’s album “A Guitarra e Outras Mulheres” (A Guitar and Other Women), along with Marta Dias, Teresa Salgueiro and Filipa Pais.

In 1999 she participated in a show in New York put together by João Braga and that would culminate in the recording of two songs for the CD “A Guitarra e Outras Mulheres” (One hundred Years of Fado).

Ana Sofia rose to prominence in the early 2000s as one of a small group of young and dynamic new fadistas, initiating a period of vibrancy and innovation that continues to the present.

Her first release was a single with two songs: “Quem canta na minha voz”, with lyrics by João Monge and music by Rui Veloso, and “Rosa Nocturna” by Vasco Graça Moura and Mário Pacheco.

Ana Sofia’s debut album, the self-titled Ana Sofia was released in 2002 by Universal Music.

In 2006, she met José Peixoto and Fernando Júdice who invited her to participate in the Sal project.

In 2009, Ana Sofia released her second album, “Fados De Amor E Pecado” made in collaboration with João Gil and João Monge. That same year, she appeared in Rao Kyao’s album “Em’Cantado.”

Discography:

Ana Sofia Varela ‎(Universal Music Portugal, 2002)                            

Fados De Amor E Pecado ‎(iPlay, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Camané

Camané – Photo by Felipe Ferreira

Carlos Manuel Moutinho Paiva dos Santos Duarte, better-known as Camané, was born on December 20, 1966 in Oeiras, Portugal.

He started getting appreciation in Portugal in 1979 after winning the ‘Grande Noite do Fado’ (Great Fado Night) contest. He became one of the leading male singers and achieved commercial success with six certified gold albums: Uma Noite de Fados (1995), Na Linha da Vida (1998),  Esta Coisa da Alma (2000), Pelo Dia Dentro (2001), the live recording Como sempre… Como dantes (2003), and Sempre De Mim (2008).

Infinito Presente (2015), the product of an extended collaboration with the writer José Maria Branco, includes lyrics and arrangements that are deceptively simple. The songs express the mysterious emotion that the Portuguese claim as uniquely and exclusively theirs: saudade, which is at once the happiness that brings sadness, and the sadness that brings happiness.

On Camané’s 2017 album, Canta Marceneiro , he revisits the repertory of Alfredo Marceneiro, an early 20th century fado singer who, though only moderately competent as a technician, completely changed fado’s possibilities for artistic expression through unrestrained inventiveness and wit. Camané’s Canta Marceneiro is filled with mischievous stories that reveal the common cares and fears in all of us through the lives of astute waitresses, drunken painters, and kings’ courtiers.

Discography:

A Alma Jovem Do Fado ‎(Riso E Ritmo Discos, 1982)
Uma Noite de Fados ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 1995)
Na Linha da Vida ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 1998)
Esta Coisa da Alma ( EMI-Valentim de Carvalho, 2000)
Pelo Dia Dentro (EMI Portugal, 2001)
Como sempre… Como dantes (EMI Portugal, 2003)
Ao vivo no São Luíz (2006)
Sempre de Mim (EMI Portugal, 2008)
Do Amor e dos Dias (EMI Portugal, 2010)
O Melhor 1995–2013 (Warner Music Portugal, 2013)
Infinito Presente ( Warner Music Portugal, 2015)
Canta Marceneiro ( Warner Music Portugal, 2017)

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Artist Profiles: Deolinda

Deolinda

Deolinda formed in 2006, inspired by Mariza, the Portuguese fado star who is renowned the world over. With a theatrical bent to much of their work Deolinda’s Ana Bachalau (meaning salted cod) recalls bringing her feminine character to life ‘She stands for days listening to records her grandmother left her and watching through the lace curtains at neighbors.’

The songs they write are often vehicles for comments on Portuguese culture and lifestyle and in recent years they have had their track ‘Movimento perpetuo Associativo’ used for political gain at party conferences (a fact the band smile wryly at considering the track took aim at national identity).

Deolinda’s debut album ‘Canção ao Lado’ (2009) achieved Platinum status in Portugal and their unique blend of delicate fado and Cape Verdean blues saw them scoop newcomer of the year at the 2010 Songlines Music Awards.

Discography:

Canção ao Lado (2009)
Dois Selos e um Carimbo (World Connection, 2010)
Mundo Pequenino (2013)
Outras Histórias (2016)

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Artist Profiles: Marta Pereira da Costa

Marta Pereira da Costa

Marta Pereira da Costa started playing the piano at the age of 4, later at 8 learned the classical guitar and at 18 began to study the Portuguese Guitar under the tutelage of Carlos Gonçalves, one of Amália Rodrigues’ most important guitar players.

Marta has performed with some of the true giants of Portuguese music, including Camané, Mário Pacheco, Dulce Pontes, and Mariza, as well as Afro-Atlantic legends such as Cameroon’s Richard Bona and Cape Verde’s Tito Paris.

Marta’s self-titled debut album was released by Warner Music in 2016, containing 13 tracks that mixed original compositions with interpretations showcasing contemporary Portuguese composers; instrumental tracks with guest vocalists such as Dulce Pontes, and Rui Veloso, and fado tradition with jazz improvisation and instruments and influences from around the world. One of Marta’s key collaborators on this album was GRAMMY Award-winning Cameroonian bassist Richard Bona, who helped bring Lisbon’s simmering Afro-Atlantic vibes to the fore on “Encontro”.

Discography:

Marta Pereira da Costa (Warner Brothers, 2016)

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Ibero-American Showcase and Conference EXIB Música 2019 to be Held in Portugal

The 5th edition of EXIB Música will take place in Setúbal, Portugal during June 13-15, 2019. The event celebrates the musical diversity of Ibero-America (Spain, Portugal and the Spanish and Portuguese countries of the Americas).

EXIB Música includes international showcases, conferences and workshops.

More information at www.exibmusica.com

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The Passionate Story of Fado

Fado star Mariza

Fado music is the heart of the Portuguese soul. It is one of the oldest urban folk music styles in the world. Some say it came as a dance from Africa in the 19th century and was adopted by the poor on the streets of Lisbon. Or perhaps it started at sea as the sad, melodic songs created by homesick sailors and fishermen.

Whatever its origins, fado’s themes have remained constant: destiny, betrayal in love, death and despair. A typical lyric goes: “Why did you leave me, where did you go? I walk the streets looking at every place we were together, except you’re not there.” It’s a sad music and a fado performance is not successful if an audience is not moved to tears.

All fado is dominated by the sentiment known as saudade. While there is no precise English definition for this word, it may be translated roughly as ‘yearning.’ Essentially it describes the soul of the music and is the measure of understanding that passes between performer and audience.


Cover of A Origem do Fado by José Alberto Sardinha

Fado History

By the early twentieth century, fado had become popular in the everyday life of Lisbon’s working class. It was played for pleasure but also to relieve the pain of life. Skilled singers known as fadistas performed at the end of the day and long into the night. Fado was the earthy music of taverns and brothels and street corners in Alfama and Mouraria, the old poor sections of Lisbon. (Another strain of fado, Coimbra fado, was favored among university students and professors.)

The fado is normally sung by men or women and accompanied by one Portuguese guitar and one classical guitar, which in Portugal is called viola. This song reached its golden era in the first half of the 20th century, when the Portuguese dictatorship of Salazar (1926-1968) forced the fado performers to become professional and confined them to sing in the fado houses and the so called “revistas”, a popular genre of “vaudeville”.

The main names of that period were: Alfredo Marceneiro, Amalia Rodrigues, Maria Teresa de Noronha and guitar players Armandinho and Jaime Santos.


The Queen of Fado Amalia Rodrigues

From the 1940s until her death in 1999, the towering figure of Portuguese fado was Amalia Rodrigues. She was the diva of fado, worshiped at home and celebrated abroad as the most famous representative of Portuguese culture. When she died the country’s prime minister called for three-days of national mourning. Such is the hold of fado over the people of Portugal.

Saudade

The essential element of fado music is saudade, a Portuguese word that translates roughly as longing, or nostalgia for unrealized dreams. Fado flowers from this fatalistic world-view. It speaks of an undefined yearning that can’t be satisfied. For Portuguese emigrants fado is an expression of homesickness for the place they left behind.

Like other forms of deeply moving folk music such as flamenco, American blues, Argentine tango or Greek rembetiko, fado cannot be explained; it must be felt and experienced. One must have the soul to transmit that feeling; a fadista who does not possess saudade is thought of as inauthentic. Audiences are very knowledgeable and very demanding. If they do not feel the fadista is up to form they will stop a performance.

Duarte at EXIB 2016 in Evora – Photo by Angel Romero

Fado can be performed by men or women, although many aficionados prefer the raw emotion of the female fadista. Dressed in black with a shawl draped over her shoulders, a fadista stands in front of the musicians and communicates through gesture and facial expressions. The hands move, the body is stationary. When it is done correctly, it is a solemn and majestic performance.

Carminho

Aside from the Lisbon fado there is another completely different form of this song, sung by the students of Coimbra University whose ancient roots can be found in the medieval songs called trovas. Here the subjects are mainly love, friendship and nostalgia. This form of fado reached its most famous period in the 1950s and 1960s when names like Edmundo Bettencourt, Luis Gois, José Afonso and the musicians Artur Paredes, Carlos Paredes and Antonio Portugal among others, combined new forms and lyrics to a song which was limited to student circles.

Fado guitarist Antonio Chainho playing the Portuguese guitar – Photo by Alexandre Nobre

The traditional accompaniment for the fadista is a Portuguese guitar, or guitarra, a 12-stringed instrument, and a bass guitar, or viola. Sometimes a second acoustic guitar is added. In recent years, fado recordings have added piano, violin and accordion, instruments which sometimes accompany the music on the streets of Lisbon.

Fado Today


Cover of the album New Queens of Fado (Arc Music, 2016), featuring Joana Amendoeira, Ana Moura, Carminho, Mariza, Cristina Branco, Katia Guerreiro, Mafalda Arnauth, Misia

Today the younger generation in Portugal is respectful but not dedicated to fado. However, a new generation of young musicians have contributed to the social and political revival of fado music, adapting and blending it with new trends.

Contemporary fado musicians like Misia have introduced the music to performers such as Sting. Misia and fadistas like Cristina Branco and Mariza, Amelia Muge, Antonio Zambujo, Ana Lains, Ana Moura, Joana Amendoeira, Katia Guerreiro, Mafalda Arnauth, walk the fine line between carrying on the tradition and trying to bring in a new audience.

Cover of the album Queens Of Fado – The Next Generation (Arc Music, 2017) featuring Cuca Roseta, Yolanda Soares, Carminho, Raquel Tavares, Gisela João, Claudia Aurora, Carla Pires and Joana Rios

One of the biggest names in the new generation of male fado singers is award-winning Marco Rodrigues.

2018 saw the rise of a new fado revelation, Sara Correia, who released her debut album Sara Correia.

(Sources: World Music Central, World Music Institute, World Music Network)

Coimbra Fado

Coimbra Fado is a genre of fado originating in the city of Coimbra, Portugal. This fado is closely linked to the academic traditions of the University of Coimbra and is exclusively sung by men; both the singers and musicians wear black capes during performances, the remaining part of the students outfit. It is sung at night, almost in the dark, in city squares, streets, or fado houses. (source: Fado group Verdes Anos)

Recommended Fado Recordings

Portugal: The Story of Fado
Fado: Exquisite Passion
The Rough Guide to Fado
Queens of Fado
Fados from Portugal
Great Voices of Fado
Queen of the Fado by Amalia Rodrigues
Rough Guide: The Music of Portugal
Queens Of Fado – The Next Generation

Fado Artists:

The following artists perform fado or fado-influenced music: Ala Dos Namorados, Almaplana, Amélia Muge, Ana Laíns, Ana Marina, Ana Moura, Antonio Chainho, Antonio Zambujo, Armenio de
Melo, Bicho de 7 cabeças, Camané, Catarina Cardeal, Cristina Branco, Custodio Castelo, Duarte, Grupo Cancao de Coimbra, Joana Amendoeira, Jorge Fernando, Katia Guerreiro, Lula Pena, Mario Pacheco, Madredeus, Mafalda Arnauth, Maria Amelia Proen, Mariza, Melian, Mike Siracusa, Misia, Nem Truz Nem Muz), Ramana Vieira, Sonia Tavares, Teresa Salgueiro, Verdes Anos – Fado group, Cuca Roseta, Yolanda Soares, Raquel Tavares, Gisela João, Claudia Aurora, Carla Pires, Marco Rodrigues, Joana Rios, and Sara Correia.

Fado Books:

A History of the Portuguese Fado by Paul Vernon (Routledge, 1998)
Fado Portugues – Songs from the Soul of Portugal by Donald Cohen (2004)
Fado and the Place of Longing, Loss, Memory and the City by Richard Elliott (Routledge, 2010)
A Origem do Fado [includes 4 CDs] by José Alberto Sardinha (Tradisom, 2010)
Fado Resounding: Affective Politics and Urban Life by Lila Ellen Gray (Duke University Press, 2013)
Fado and the Urban Poor in Portuguese Cinema of the 1930s and 1940s by Michael Colvin (Boydell & Brewer, 2016)

Fado sites:

Portal do Fado, Portuguese portal dedicated to fado.

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Artist Profiles: Mariza

Mariza – Photo by Carlos Ramos

Mariza began singing Fado as a child, before she could read. Her father sketched out little cartoon stories to help her remember the lyrics. At the age of five, she would join in the spontaneous singing at her parents’ restaurant in Mouraria, one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighborhoods.

Mariza was born in Mozambique, but her family moved to Portugal when she was a baby, giving her plenty of time to get immersed directly in the Fado tavernas (Fado houses) where singing is part of everyday life. She told the BBC, “Half of me is very, very Portuguese and the other half is very, very African.”

At the age of twenty-six, Mariza released her first CD, Fado Em Mim, the recording presents six classic Fados and six original compositions, all of them tugging listeners at the heart and soul.

Fado is Portugal’s passionate and bittersweet musical gift to the world, equivalent to Blues or Rebetika or Tango or Flamenco. “They all stand on emotions,” said Mariza. “Fado is an emotional kind of music full of passion, sorrow, jealousy, grief, and often satire.”

Mariza had her first major national exposure in 1999 as one of the guest performers in Tribute Concerts for Amália Rodrigues in the Coliseums of Lisbon and Oporto. Both performances were broadcast live on one of Portugal’s Network TV channels. Mariza’s performances immediately sparked interest in the public and in the national media. In 2000, she received the award, “Voice of Fado,” presented by Central FM (Portugal’s national radio station). She was invited to “introduce” Fado to rock icon Sting by a highly rated national television show Hermansic.

Mariza walks the fine line necessary to both genuinely carry the tradition and bring it freshness for today. Her performance style captures the raw emotion that characterizes the genre, but with her own personal twist.

When Mariza recorded Transparente, her latest studio album, she recruited Brazilian Jaques Morelenbaum to help her create the sonority she wanted. “He gave me a more velvet, more intimate, more romantic sound,” Mariza dreamily recalls.

Mariza

We recorded the Transparente album in Brazil,” explains Mariza. “I am looking for fado from a different perspective, because I now travel a lot. One month I am at the Sidney Opera House, another month I am in China or Thailand. I am starting to find that this music that belongs to Lisbon, to Portuguese people, is starting to feel more and more universal. It speaks about universal feelings. Each country interprets it in its own way. We are crossing cultural lines now. And I feel so proud about it.”

When Lisbon’s mayor invited Mariza to perform for Lisbon in this way, she brought Morelenbaum in once again for the arrangements and conducting duties. One a rainy summer evening in 2005, around 25,000 people gathered at the Tower of Belem’s gardens in Lisbon to hear Mariza.

The 500 year-old Tower of Belem sits at the mouth of the River Tagus. The Tower of Belem looks in one direction onto the river and towards the sea, the departure point for Portugal’s famous sailors. In the other direction it looks over the city of Lisbon. Looking forward while looking back.

At the gardens, Mariza performed favorite songs from her young-but-full career with a full orchestra, the Sinfonietta de Lisboa, conducted by Jaques Morelenbaum. The magical night is captured on Concerto em Lisboa, released on CD with a bonus DVD documentary. Concerto em Lisboa went platinum in Portugal for both CD and DVD version.

Having the river and the Tower, the place where the boats left to make their discoveries in the 16th Century; going to India and Africa. Being in that place, singing fado was very emblematic that night,” says Mariza. “Even if I didn’t want to think about it, the sea was so near, and all these things came to mind that night. I never thought a girl with roots in Africa would have all that!

I was not expecting so many different ages, from a younger generation, to grandmothers with grandchildren. There were traditional people from my neighborhood and people coming from the north and the south, even from Spain!” exclaims Mariza. “When I saw the images, showing my Lisbon people, and not only people from Lisbon, but a very eclectic audience, all clapping and singing along, I realized what a beautiful night it was. It was not a typical fado audience. I was so surprised. I loved it.”

Outside interest in Mariza abounds, from her sell-out concert at the 6,000-seat Royal Albert Hall in London, to her BBC World Music Award, and being picked by Germany’s ‘100 most important women in Europe.’ She performed a duet with Sting for the Athens Olympics album, and became a UNICEF Ambassador.

In 2007 Mariza took the symphonic show on the road. “Sometimes when you talk about classical music, people have a cold approach and they get a little bit distant,” Mariza says. “But with John Mauceri, it was amazing. He had a very, very special way of treating the music. Always explaining it to the audience and saying funny things. It was unbelievable! I learned from him that even if you have a light approach, it doesn’t mean you are not respecting the music.”

Mariza has also been getting her feet wet in the film world. The BBC released a documentary in 2007 titled Mariza and the Story of Fado, compellingly profiling both the artist and the genre. There will be a special limited edition version of the Concerto em Lisboa album that includes the full BBC documentary. And Mariza played the lead role in a new film called Fado by Carlos Saura, whose past works include the Oscar-nominated Tango and Flamenco, giving fans a chance to see her in an acting role.

In 2007 prominent architect Frank Gehry designed a set for a performance by Portuguese fado singer Mariza later this year. Gehry, renowned for his stunning and daring urban visions, agreed to create a taverna-inspired stage for Mariza’s performance in October at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Gehry said he met Mariza several years ago in Lisbon and was enamored by fado, Portuguese folk music that often has mournful lyrics. “It’s a very intimate setting and there is a dark ambiance,” said Mariza. “It’s a huge privilege to have my own taverna directed by Mr. Gehry.”

Her international acknowledgement is notable: in 2003 she won the BBC Radio 3 Award For World Music, in the European category. She was the first Portuguese artist ever nominated for the GRAMMY awards in the category of Best Folk Album.

Discography:

Fado Em Mim (World Connection, 2001)
Ao Vivo Na Culturgest ‎(2002)
Fado Curvo (EMI, 2003)
Fado Curvo / Ao vivo em Espanha ‎(EMI-Valentim De Carvalho, 2004)
Ao Vivo No Casino ‎(Corda Seca, 2004)
Transparente (EMI, 2005)
Concerto Em Lisboa (EMI Music Portugal, 2006)
Terra (EMI Music Portugal, 2008)
Fado Tradicional (EMI Music Portugal, 2010)
Live at Philharmonie im Gasteig in Munich ‎(2013)
Mundo (Warner Music Portugal, 2015)
Mariza (Warner Music Portugal, 2018)

DVDs

Live in London

Live 8 at Eden – Africa Calling (Real World/Rhino, 2005)

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