Portuguese fado singers Maria Emília and Hélder Moutinho visit the U.S. next month for two concerts of the ever-evolving music. The best of fado–a way of living as much as a way of playing–is a dynamic conversation among singers and musicians, with constant give-and-take, honoring the past while always keeping an eye on the future.
For this tour (with dates on Friday, June 2 at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and on Saturday, June 3 at the Zeiterion Theatre in New Bedford, MA), the two singers, joined by three eminent guitarists, recreate for U.S. audiences the spontaneity of Lisbon’s most traditional fado houses. Those who caught episode three of Apple TV’s “Reluctant Traveler”, starring Eugene Levy, have a hint of what to expect. Levy met, spoke with, and even played with Hélder Moutinho on a surprise-filled trip to Lisbon.
Fado is enjoying a global resurgence, buoyed not only by worldwide tours of artists who perform it but also by the experiences of visitors to Portugal who have heard the music in the small taverns and community collectives where it was born and still thrives. Fado captures the spirit and inventiveness of Portugal — as well as some of its boldest contradictions–in a seamless tradition stretching out over more than 150 years. The music can be wildly improvisational even while adhering to its strictest traditions; its lyrics span the sacred to the secular; and its practitioners are a fluid mix of individuals representing nearly every corner of Portuguese society.
Hélder Mountinho sits squarely within this tradition and indeed has been instrumental in keeping it alive. As is evident throughout his storied career, he is first and foremost a fado singer of startling depth and invention. With his brother, Camané, he shares a long family lineage devoted to fado. Hélder Moutinho’s albums are multi-faceted creations, each built around a unifying concept: they evoke contemporary experiences of love and loss, framed by the ancient alleyways and shadows of Old Lisbon. A songwriter and poet, Moutinho is also one of a very select group of singers who manage their own fado venue, or “Casa de Fados” (fado house). In this case, the “casa” is “Maria da Mouraria,” where fado’s first great singer, Maria Severa, lived more than 150 years ago. It’s a pulsating, mythical place at the center of a bustling community of fado singers, musicians, lyricists and composers. For this concert, Moutinho promises “a voyage through the streets and history of Lisbon via the words and sounds of fado.”
Performing the same evening is Maria Emília, a beautiful, burning light of contemporary fado. She moved from Brazil to Portugal at a young age and began singing fado at a very young age. She has now been performing for 15 years. Throughout this time, she has demonstrated a steadfast devotion not only to the music’s deepest traditions but also to its expressive possibilities. Onstage, the effect is mesmerizing: perhaps no other singer of her generation combines raw magnetism, complete freedom, and total commitment to traditional fado to such devastating effect. Her appearance at the 2019 Fado Festival announced her as a protean talent of unbounded potential. Her latest CD, “Casa de Fado,” sparkles with bittersweet fados such as “Perfeito Pecado” and “Sou um Fado desta Idade”, while laying bare the raw emotion of classics such as “Um dia cheguei-me a ti” and “Agora.”
The two singers are joined on this tour by Ricardo Parreira on the “guitarra portuguesa” (Portuguese guitar), André Ramos on the “viola do fado” (classical guitar), and Francisco Gaspar on the “viola baixo” (acoustic bass).
Source: Submitted by David Mendonça