Fado: Portugal’s Melancholy Music

If there is a single word that sums up what makes Portugal unique from other Latin countries, it’s  saudade.   It  has no exact English counterpart, but the general idea has to do with longing  or nostalgia for a person, place, or thing that may never be found.

While saudade is deeply embedded in almost every aspect of Portuguese culture, its most popular expression is in Fado, a musical tradition that combines singing with Portuguese guitar and classical guitar.  Throughout Lisbon and Portugal, you can go to bars specifically devoted to Fado  where people in the crowd will yell out to the singer to make the song even sadder.

The Maria Callas of Fado is Amalia Rodrigues, who before her death in 1999 was an international superstar. You can see one of her performances in the video clip I’ve put into the top of this post.

Today, Rodrigues’ classical style has been updated, most notably by Mariza, the current queen of the genre who is often accompanied by an orchestra.  My husband, Pascal, also highly recommends Ana Moura, and Katia Guerreiro. If you ever get the chance to see Cristina Branco live, it’s an experience you won’t forget.

What musical traditions do you love most?

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