Fado… só quando a saudade vem”

“Fado, only when the saudade comes…”

…with these words and her amazing voice, the 22 year old Dulce Pontes caught our hearts singing Lusitana Paixão (Lusitana Passion), a song about our typical music, Fado, at the Portugal Eurovision Song Contest in 1991. After her, a new generation has come…

1. Dulce Pontes

Fado is “fatum” in Latin and it means destiny or fate. This form of music, characterised by mournful tunes and lyrics, often focuses on our historic relations with the sea and saudade, the feeling of a permanent and irreparable loss, like the one experienced by a woman who cries for her husband lost at sea …

Canção do Mar (Song of the Sea) is one of the best known Fados about this relationship with the sea. Dulce Pontes performs this song in a magestic way. Actor Richard Gere, so enchanted by her performance, chose Canção do Mar as the theme song of the film Primal Fear. This song dates from 1955, and it was one of the greatest hits of our Fado Diva, Amália Rodrigues.

Dulce Pontes, who defines herself as a world music singer, has already performed with the maestro Ennio Morricone and the singers Andrea Bocelli and José Carreras. She has performed in the Carnegie Hall in New York and in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Also on these stages, another great Fado singer of this new generation has also performed, Mariza.

2. Mariza

“ E meu e vosso este Fado”

“It’s mine and yours this Fado…”

When Mariza sang these lyrics from Oh, Gente da Minha Terra (another Fado of Amalia Rodrigues), near the Torre de Belém (a monument to all the Portuguese sea discoveries in the 16th century) in Lisbon, all the audience was in tears, moved by her voice and the way she called for us (yes, I was there!)…

“Oh, People of my land” is an expression that means a lot to us because there are so many Portuguese living outside the country, especially in France, Germany, Luxembourg and the United States. Most of them emigrated for economic reasons, like many of my generation, or for political reasons, as in the sixties of the last century, during the Salazar Dictatorship.

Mariza was raised in the historic Lisbon districts of Mouraria and Alfama, where the Fado was born in the 19th century. She has already twice received the Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album, once in 2007 with Concerto em Lisboa, and again in 2008 with Terra.

3. Cristina Branco

“Se uma gaivota viesse trazer-me o céu de Lisboa…”

“If a seagull would come and bring me the Lisbon sky …”

…I would be very happy because I miss so much the unique light of Lisbon. Cristina Branco sings it so well!

The Netherlands, where I live now, has been the main stage for Cristina Branco. Her first album, “Cristina Branco Live in Holland” was released after the two concerts she performed here in April 1996. Her second CD, “Murmúrios”, was also made in the Netherlands in 1998. Two years later, Cristina wanted to show her gratitude to the country and recorded a beautiful album dedicated to the Dutch poet Slauerhoff. Listen to her crystal voice…

4. Joana Amendoeira

“Sopra o vento, sopra o vento”

“Blows the wind, blows the wind…”

Another young Fado voice who has also performed in the Netherlands, in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, is Joana Amendoeira. She has also performed in the Royal Opera House in London.

5. Ana Moura

“Por um momento se acende a magia…”

“For a moment, it becomes magic…”

…with Ana Moura, not only for us Portuguese when we listen to her, but also for her two great admirers, the music group Rolling Stones and the singer Prince, with whom she already performed.

6. Mísia

“Mar de mágoas sem marés”

“Sea of sorrows without tides…”

Mísia’s Portuguese (by her father) and Catalan (by her mother) heritage created a unique voice and stage presence in the Fado World. Mísia developed a new style by modernising Fado, combining the traditional instruments (classical guitar and Portuguese guitar) with the sensuality of the accordion and the violin.

Her first album was released in 1990 and was very well received in Portugal as well as outside the country, especially in France. In her second album, even the harp can be heard, together with some of the major Portuguese poetry.

I leave you with two more beautiful voices. Let’s imagine we are at a Fado house in Lisbon… it’s like a sacred place to us Portuguese. We have just eaten our Caldo Verde and chouriço assado. The candles are giving a special atmosphere… and someone will say:

“Silencio, que se vai cantar o Fado!”

“Silence! The Fado will be sung!”

7. Mafalda Arnauth

O mar fala de ti…”

“The sea tells me about you…”

(Mafalda Arnauth’s website)

…and the evening will finish with this classic…and the sounds of the beautiful Portuguese Guitar

8. Kátia Guerreiro

“Tudo isto é Fado”

“All this is Fado”

(Kátia Guerreiro’s website)

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About the author

Sandra Silva has been living in the Netherlands since December 2007. Photography and travel writing are Sandra’s main activities, alongside learning Dutch and organizing a life abroad. She is a passionate lover of her country, history, photography, poetry, her cat and old photos. Main hobbies are reading and travelling.