Fado of Lisbon

Jul 28, 2017Lisbon, Portuguese culture and lifestyle

Fado is an icon of the Portuguese musical culture. It has been awakening the interest of some of our guests and partners.

As Portuguese, it’s a great honor, and we find it very curious! Note that the majority of the time, listeners do not understand a thing of the lyrics, but they keep telling us that they love the sound of guitars, and they are moved by the voice of the fadistas.

We decided to make a small retrospective of the history of fado, so next time you listen, you know all about it!

How does fado arise?

Fado is born spontaneously in the popular and bohemian environments of 19th century Lisbon. It becomes famous with the adulterous relationship between the Count of Vimioso and Maria Severa Onofriana (1820-1846), a prostitute consecrated by her talents as a singer who becomes one of the greatest myths of the history of fado.

Although not everyone knew, until the beginning of the 20th century, it was “Teatro de Revista” (kind of a Vaudeville theater) that gave fado life as a popular entertainment during the interval of the shows or even as the soundtrack of the play.

The age of radio, microphone, and censorship

Radio and the popularization of the microphone ended the frontiers for the diffusion of the fado.

Professional companies of fadistas (name called to the one who sings fado) had their music all over Portugal. From the beginning, Portuguese radios such as Rádio Clube Português, Rádio Graça, and Rádio Luso integrated fado into their broadcasts.

With the 28th May revolution in 1926 (authoritarian regime – Estado Novo), the dictatorship, and consequent implementation of censorship in all public spectacles and recordings, the panorama of the fado in Lisbon changes.

Fado and the activity of the “fadista” are regulated being created the first fadista’s professional portfolio. 

On the other, this regulation aids the government control of the song’s lyrics, radio broadcasts, and the “casas de fado” (houses where fado is sung).

Sensitive to social injustice, during the time of the dictatorship, the fado’s intervening character isn’t lost. It forces singers to a tremendous creative challenge to avoid censorship.

1940 and 1960 the golden years of fado

During this time, we have the exponent of the popularization of fado as a music style. In 1953 the contest “Grande noite de fado” is created. Until our days, annually, casts young talents of the fado.

It is a glorious period of great live acts when fado blends with the erudite Portuguese poetry having it exponent on Amália Rodrigues.

The post-dictatorship to the present day

With the end of dictatorship in 1974, initially, fado is considered something of the old regime, much because of the pro-government stance of Amália Rodrigues. For two years, the contest “Grande noite de fado” is not held.

Despite the uproar that is the end of a dictatorship, fado was already rooted in Portuguese tastes and culture.

With the end of dictatorship in 1974, initially, fado is considered something of the old regime, much because of the pro-government stance of Amália Rodrigues. For two years, the contest “Grande noite de fado” is not held.

In the ’90s, fado consecrated itself in the circuits of World Music International with Mísia and Cristina Branco.

Camané stands out in the panorama of the fado obtaining in 2012 the nomination of the academy the Oscars Academy Awards in the category of the best original song in the film “Jose Pilar.”

Nowadays, we have a group of artists that is very dignifying to the roots of this music that is also the hymn of a people!

To feel the fado is to feel Portuguese! And now silence and let fado be sung!

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