Mariza, Naifa, Deolinda, and the unforgettable Teresa with Madredeus…Not the only ones but the ones on my list.
Growing up I avoided Fado music like the plague! I saw it as the by-product of this dark, hopeless and helpless attitude that the Portuguese as a group seem to emanate. I saw it as a way to propagate and maintain this attitude, some sort of propaganda dating back to the dictatorship, and didn’t want anything to do with that. After all, in my reductionist view of the Portuguese national identity which contains two types of Portuguese (only!!) – the ones who went and the ones who stayed – I definitely situated myself in the first group! And the Fado was a creation of the ones who stayed…
At University I was fortunate to experience the student Fado genre. That told me something about Fado I did not know: it was not necessarily depressing, and it was something very Portuguese, something I would not find anywhere else in the world.
Since then I have allowed myself to enjoy these other voices. They have taught me that Fado does not have to be about longing, sadness, sorrow, helplessness… On the contrary, it can be about hope, about keeping the memory alive and hope for a brighter tomorrow when today is not looking good. Or simply, about a very nice moment in life. It can be fun and it can be teasing. It’s not about the old but the new.