Fado. Most Portuguese people know what this genre of music is, they’ve heard it in their grandmother’s kitchen, or at a festa. You either adore it or you hate it and find it extremely boring. This genre of music can be identified from miles away by the Portuguese people, but do we all know what it means? Do we all know what this timeless word means? Fate. Destiny. Love. Loss. Experience. Hope. Saudade. It has been traced as far back as the 1820’s in places like Alfama and Bairro Alto in Portugal. However, I believe it’s been around longer than that. There is normally only one singer called a Fadista and two instruments: the classical guitar and the Portuguese guitar. Now, various artists have added different components to accompany both of these instruments, however they’re still alive and well in Fado. The Portuguese guitar is my favorite instrument, so beautiful and flawless.
Fado is, without question, my absolute favorite genre of music. I hope to one day open up a Fado House as they have in Portugal, here in California so that Americans can really embrace the essence of the art. It’ll be just like a Fado house in the streets of Portugal; dim lighting, coffee, desserts, dinner, alcohol, and amazing artists. I imagine having an open mic night for local fadistas everywhere, every week. It’s going to happen people, I can see it!
The 19th century’s most renowned Fadista was Maria Severa but Amália Rodrigues is who fore-fronted the popularization of the genre worldwide and is known as Rainha do Fado (Queen of Fado). She is who really paved the way for all modern singers.
Now we have fadistas such as Mariza, Ana Moura, Katia Gueirrero, Dulce Pontes and let’s not forget the men Camane, Ricardo Ribeiro and Calros do Carmo. All amazing artists, all inspired by the late Amalia Rodrigues.
Now back to the word saudade as mentioned before. Although there are explanations and meanings of the word plastered all over the internet, I believe that this word does not have a specific meaning. It’s a feeling that is far too complicated to define, a feeling of absence, longing, and emptiness. A feeling that whatever it is you are seeking and longing will never return. Lost lovers. Lost family. A love that remains forever in our hearts even after that person has left us indefinitely. A bittersweet, overwhelming feeling of anger, happiness, sadness, all rolled into one. This word doesn’t even have a direct translation to the English language. Sure, you can translate “tenho saudade de você” to “I miss you”, but it is not the same thing. It isn’t even close. This word is so powerful to the Portuguese and Brazilian people that there is an entire day dedicated to this word alone! You can even have saudade for someone who is standing right next to you. Maybe you’ve drifted apart, or maybe that person has changed and detached themselves from you. Whatever it is, there is no word in any other language that can describe it quite like this word.
I recommend, to any of you that have never listened to Fado before, to take some time to listen to at least one song. The following are some of my favorites:
Mariza – Primavera (Live) <My favorite version
Ana Moura – Fado Menor (Live) <Also, my favorite version
Amália Rodrigues – Primavera <Just so you can compare old school to new.
Dulce Pontes- Canção do Mar
Katia Guerreiro – Amor de Mel Amor de Fel
These are only a few of the great Fados out there and I don’t pretend to be an expert on Fado, but I am passionate about it.