Art & Design Magazine

Songs for Sadness - Three Fado Queens - Amália Rodrigues, Mariza, Cristina Branco

By Billlives

Whenever I want to evoke a feeling of loss, I turn to fado. I played Fado all day after Bush won in 2004 and the Giants won in 2012.  Fado originated in the 1820s in Portugal and is marked by mournful tunes and lyrics. I find it has the same power as the blues, to help you feel sad and, at the same time, to feel good about it. Here are some of the three best female fado singers I got from my friend Don Lesser and their CDs I am playing.

Amália RodriguesThe Art of Amalia Rodrigues has many of her classic work ranging from her first recordings in 1952 up to 1970. Amália (1920–October 6, 1999) was known as the "Queen of Fado" and was most influential in introducing fado to the world outside of Portugal. Her Lisbon house (in Rua de São Bento) is now a museum. Here is a site to download her music through MP3s.

Mariza - Fado em mim is backed by chamber-style ensembles of bass, piano, classical guitar, and the 12-stringed Portuguese viola. Mariza (born 1976 in Mozambique) moved to Portugal when she was a child, and was raised in one of the traditional quarters of Lisbon, Mouraria, where she learned how to sing fado. Some say she in the heir to Amália Rodrigues as the new queen of fado.

Cristina Brancocorpo iliminado is based on the work of Portuguese poets like Pessoa and sensus which contains ballads based on modern and 16th century Portuguese poetry. Cristina was born in Lisbon in 1972. According to her site, she grew up looking to contemporary music and was not interested in the more traditional fado until she received an album by Amália Rodrigues on her 18th birthday. It continues, “Cristina Branco is developing her own style from a number of primary components. She employs a traditional group (voice, Portuguese guitar, guitar and bass guitar) and offers us concurrently a light, warm and experienced voice; she mixes the traditional fado with themes and folk songs that are personal favourites and seems always to choose the words of the best Portuguese poets with discretion.”


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