Fado (portuguese music)

A tribute to my dear friend and famous guitar player Custódio Castelo

Fado is a national treasure and is a worldwide musical symbol of Portuguese culture and tradition.
Love, fate, sadness, nostalgia... feelings whispered on a strong, but gentle, voice that can never be explained but only felt...
In 2011, Fado was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Although its origins remain a mystery, it's thought that Fado originated in sailor's bars in Lisbon towards the end of the 18th century. The pain of those who watched their loved ones depart for the discoveries, without knowing if they would see them again, could have been the starting point for this sentimental song genre. Its name comes from the Latin 'fatum', meaning fate.
From the last quarter of the 19th century it was adopted by the aristocrats to express their romantic feelings using the words of great Portuguese poets and writers and became linked to the word "saudade" (a longing for home and familiar places).
One of the earliest manifestations of Fado was in a song depicting the forbidden love story between a gypsy woman by the name of Maria Severa and the Count de Vimioso, a man of nobility. Entrenched in the hopelessness of their love, as Chris Da Rosa of Vanguard Squad states, ‘Maria would find comfort in belting out her sorrows in the bars and clubs of Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, while strumming along on her guitarra portuguesa (a twelve-string mandolin-like instrument, possibly of Moorish origin)’. This story was depicted in Portugal’s first all talking sound film, A Severa.  
In the Fado, the singer - fadista - stands dressed in black in front of the audience and behind the fadista are the musicians playing the wonderful "guitarra portuguesa" (portuguese guitar). They sing of their loves, of their city, or the miseries of life, critical of society and its politicians. When the fadista sings a hush falls over the room and no food is served.

Some historical names are Carlos do Carmo, Alfredo Marceneiro, Hermínia Silva, Rodrigo, Maria Alice and Tristão da Silva. But the most famous and widely regarded as the best fadista was Amália Rodrigues (1920 – 1999), previously known as the ‘Rainha do Fado’ (Queen of Fado), who initially pushed the genre’s boundaries, helping to develop and define it into what it is today. Amália Rodrigues travelled the world performing and recording.
The new Queen of Fado is Mariza, a young and dynamic fadista that has moved the hearts of thousands of people around the globe, a multiple grammy nominee and a winner of the BBC Best European Act award, she represents a contemporary interpretation of this old musical tradition.
Other contemporary artists are Camané, Cristina Branco, Ana Moura and Carminho, just to name a few.

Portugal is proud of its music and it is best heard in the Fado houses. 

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