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Amália, the Queen of Fado


Amália, the Queen of Fado


Amália da Piedade Rodrigues, (July 23, 1920 – October 6, 1999), known as Amália Rodrigues (Portuguese pronunciation: was a Portuguese singer and actress. She was known as the Rainha do Fado ("Queen of Fado") and was most influential in popularizing the fado worldwide. She was one of the most important figures in the genre's development, and enjoyed a 50-year recording and stage career. Amália' performances and choice of repertoire pushed fado's boundaries and helped redefine it and reconfigure it for her and subsequent generations. In effect, Amália wrote the rulebook on what fado could be and on how a female fadista — or fado singer — should perform it, to the extent that she remains an unsurpassable model and an unending source of repertoire for all those who came afterwards. Amália enjoyed an extensive international career between the 1950s and the 1970s, although in an era where such efforts were not as easily quantified as today. She was the main inspiration to other well-known international fado and popular music artists such as Madredeus, Dulce Pontes, and Mariza.



Lisbon Deserves Its Title As European City Of The Year


Lisbon Deserves Its Title As European City Of The Year

By Barbara Barton Sloane

Climbing down a dark,narrow staircase, I entered a tiny room lit by countless candles. Flickering shadows danced languidly across the walls and, as my eyes adjusted to the murky atmosphere, I saw two men playing guitars and a heavy-set, 50-ish woman swaying to the rhythm. Her eyes were tightly closed as she swayed to the music. When she began her song, the sound was low, guttural almost, mournful and seductive. This was Fado, the traditional music of Portugal and high on my bucket list of things to experience.

I recently visited Lisbon, Portugal and this year a prestigious award has been conferred on the city. The Academy of Urbanism bestowed on Lisbon the award of The European City of the Year, 2012. The Academy is an autonomous, politically independent organization whose goals are the recognition, learning and promoting of the best practices in urbanism; its award is presented yearly following careful and detailed inspection of nominee cities.

The fabulous capital of Portugal has always enjoyed the superb combination of a vibrant downtown, historic quarters with parks and gardens and cool, contemporary development. It has successfully managed to sustain its classical and modern architecture and has carefully invested in worthy urban projects. This, in combination with Lisbon's recent project to develop the River Tagus waterfront in a sensitive and responsive manner, has garnered this singular award for Lisbon.


The city has still another reason to kvell. A few years ago, the Portuguese Parliament started an initiative to promote Fado as UNESCO's World's Heritage Cultural Patrimony and former Lisbon mayor Pedro Santana Lopes came up with the idea that Fado should be considered as a cultural heritage. The result: this year the UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity award has been conferred on Lisbon for its Portuguese Fado music. According to UNESCO, intangible heritage includes traditions and skills passed on within cultures. The UNESCO's committee of experts unanimously praised Fado as an example of good practices that should be followed by other countries.

This traditional art form, Fado, is music and poetry representing a multicultural synthesis of Afro-Brazilian song from rural areas of the country. It is performed professionally on the concert circuit and in small 'Fado houses in numerous grass-root associations located throughout older neighborhoods of Lisbon.

After my scintillating Fado experience in that tiny neighborhood boite, the next day I visited the

Museu e Casa do Fado located on Largo do Chafariz de Dentro 1, directly opposite the entrance to the Alfama. It's a small museum with a packed collection that includes many interactive exhibits. The permanent collection is a wondrous journey through the history of Fado -- the music, the singers, the musicians and instruments. I loved the room displaying hundreds of photos of famous singers as well as old posters and advertisements, each wall crammed with information on how Fado developed as a musical genre. My favorite room had an installation that recreated a Fado bar. I found myself alone in this room, dark and loaded with atmosphere. Lining the walls, original costumes worn by some of the great Fadistas like Lidia Riberiro, Maria da Fe and Amalia. As music played softly, I had the overpowering sensation of being an integral part of this scene. Leaving the museum and entering the bright, relentless sunlight of Lisbon was jarring, disconcerting. The cure: another visit to a Fado club that evening.

Mariza, a leading contemporary performer, multiple award winner and the ambassador for Fado's UNESCO candidacy said that, because Fado has been so honored, "perhaps we Portuguese will now take greater pride in who we are, especially in the so very grey times we currently live in."

2012 European City of the Year coupled with the luscious music of Fado - persuasive, inviting reasons to visit. But do one really need a reason? Lisbon, Portugal: reason enough!

Source: The Huffington Post

*Barbara Barton Sloane is the Travel Writer for The Westchester Guardian, The Westchester Herald and The Yonkers Tribune; a contributing Travel Writer for Bay Area Family Travel, Travel Savvy News, CEO Traveler, Travel World International Magazine, GlobalWrites and many other publications. She is a former Assistant Beauty & Fashion Editor for Ladies’ Home Journal, Associate Editor for McCall’s, and is presently the Beauty and Fashion Editor of Elegant Accents Magazine. In addition to travel writing, Barbara’s interests include running marathons, hiking and cycling. She is a volunteer for The Westchester Bereavement Center, The Lighthouse for the Blind and a member of North American Travel Journalists Association, International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association, Pacific Asia Travel Association, Cosmetic Executive Women and Fashion Group International. Favorite destinations are those that include family travel, light adventure, luxury/spas/resorts, incentive/business travel, wedding/honeymoon destinations and sites of historic and cultural importance both here and abroad. Barbara has a BA in Journalism from Ohio State University.


Fado, the soul of Portuguese culture


Fado, the soul of Portuguese culture

It is  unlikely that you are able to undertand Fado just by reading about it. Fado is a song that touches the deepest corners of Portuguese souls, so to really apreciate and learn about the ways of Portuguese souls you need to find a confortable chair, relax with a glass of red wine and with your eyes close, listen with your heart this anciant melody.

Carminho belongs to the new generation of Fado singers, her style and tone is in my opinion very similar to the Queen of Fado, Amália, but brings a new enchantment to this world intangible heritage

It is impossible not to have a view on Fado.  People either love it or hate it. The subject raises as much passion as the genre itself. 

The possible origins of fado include: Arabic from the population remaining in the Mourarias after the Christian reconquest in 1147; Afro-Brazilian from the mixture of the modinhas (soft romantic music of the Portuguese elite in Brazil) and the lundum (Angolan) which came to Portugal with the returning Royal family in the 1820s; maritime from the sailors returning to Lisbon after their voyages of discovery who may have sung sea-songs of nostalgia for Lisbon; medieval from the troubadours with their romantic poetry; 16th century from the narrative singing of the C16 romanceros.  

Other theories suggest a connexion with the Afro-American blues; or a gypsy element from Andalucia; or because the Jewish community was present in Lisbon for years after their forced conversion of 1497, it could be that their secret suffering contributed to the saudade of Fado.  

Fado comes from the Latin fatum meaning fate.  Fate describes the individual’s future and fado bemoans the unchangeable nature of the individual’s destiny and the unforgiving and unchanging nature of the lottery of life.   

The songs are urban folk songs from four of the poorest districts of Lisbon: Alfama, Bairro Alto, Madragoa and Mouraria. 

Saudade, which has a multiplicity of meanings such as longing, yearning, regrets, homesickness, memories, is the essence of Fado.  

Fado is sung by male or female fadistas with a traditional accompaniment of a melody line from the guitarra portuguesa and the rhythm is provided by the acoustic guitar, which the Portuguese call viola. Sometimes a double bass adds extra bass to the rhythm.  

First recognised in Lisbon in the 1820s, Fado o riginated in the taverns and brothels and the first famous exponent was Maria Severa. Her fame rests on a play of 1901 by Júlio Dantas (later made into the first Portuguese talkie A Severa in 1931).  From about 1870, the Teatro de Revista began to incorporate Fado songs and soon no production was complete without fado.  

Many Fados are about the city of Lisbon and the city is likened to a girl who is always beautiful and elegant.  It is likely that of all the cities in the world, Paris and Buenos Aires included, Lisbon is the city which is the subject of most songs.  

In the 1890s, Fado de Coimbra appeared. Sometimes this form is referred to as canção de Coimbra because it does not belong to the Lisbon tradition of Fado. It is usually sung by male students or graduates in the street (preferably on the steps of the Old Cathedral) and is firmly identified with the University of Coimbra, and the performers are always in the black capes which the students wear. 

Lisbon Fado is usually sung by only one person.  A woman fadista normally wears a black shawl over her dress signifying mourning for the first fadista, Maria Severa.  Men used to dress in suits but now a black polo sweater or an open necked shirt is accepted.  

There are different types of Fado:  menor is sad, slow and melancholic and is sung in a minor key; Mouraria is nostalgic but in a major key and faster; corrido has cheerful and upbeat music but the words do not necessarily reflect that mood; bailado is danceable.  

Fado canção or fado musicado is more commercial and appeared in the 1930s with Amália Rodrigues, its greatest exponent.  Fado castiço is the original type of fado and considered the best by the aficionados.  It is accompanied by the guitarra portuguesa and viola only.  

Fado à desgarrada and Fado vadio are different from the professional Fado found in Casas de Fado.  In these formats, amateurs take turns to sing their emotions.  A Portuguese friend tells me that the only proper form is Fado vadio; the rest is just for show.

Because fado was tightly controlled by the Salazar regime, some Portuguese have an ambivalent attitude towards it and its most famous exponent Amália Rodrigues.  It was announced by Salazar that he would give the Portuguese three ‘Fs’ to be proud of - fado, Fátima and football.  And so, perhaps in spite of themselves, both Eusébio and Amália Rodrigues became apologists for the regime. 

After the 1974 revolution, Fado became less popular and it was not until the late 1980s that younger artists have realised that fado is greater than the history of the dictatorship. 

Traditionally, most fadistas came from Lisbon but over the last 100 years, Lisbon Fado has lost its connexions with Lisbon, bullfighting, the nobility, saudade and Fado menor.  It is becoming an international genre scarcely distinguishable from other song types.  

Perhaps the recent recognition by UNESCO of fado as part of Portugal’s intangible cultural heritage will encourage a return to its roo ts. 

Text source: Algarve Resident


World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage –  Fado


World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage – Fado



Last week Portugal was graced with the recognition of its most traditional music genre as one of World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. This Lisbon mournful song, Fado, is in the hearts of every Portuguese around the world and brings the suffer and nostalgy to a poetic song  


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