Fado from Portugal
July 29, 30 & 31, 2016
Ana Laíns is one of the brightest stars in Portugal’s centuries-old tradition of fado singing. She brings a bell-like clarity to this genre of minor-key laments about the hardships of life at sea, the pressures of urban poverty, and, above all, the heartbreak of romance. Like all the legendary fadistas (female fado singers), Lains aims for the experience of saudade, the feeling that one has been overcome by fate and carried away like a stick caught in the water’s current.
Often described as the soul of the Portuguese people, fado is arguably the world’s oldest urban folk music, having emerged from the bustling cafes and side streets of old Lisbon in the early 19th century. A true fadista embodies the soulfulness of this musical tradition, delivering lyrics with barely controlled raw emotion.
“People think of it as a sad music, full of sentiment, sang by nostalgic women,” Laíns says. “And that is true, but there is more to it than that. It was first sung by sailors and other men in the 19th century. Most of the times, traditional fado has no melody, and it is part of a good fado singer’s job, to improvise and create his or her own style.”
Laíns grew up in the rural Portuguese region of Ribatejo, but at the age of 19 she moved to Lisbon to become a professional singer. There she honed her skills in the traditional fado houses—small, darkened taverns where locals listen to fado over wine. She had her breakthrough when she won Lisbon’s “Grande Noite de Fado” (“Grand Night of the Fado”), the country’s top fado competition. This led to her 2006 debut album, Sentidos, which expanded the scope of fado to include international influences.
“Fado—like jazz, flamenco or tango—cannot stand still, because time doesn’t stop,” Laíns explains. “I want to keep … singing in my language of Portuguese, because I feel blessed to have been born in such an amazing country.”
The festival performances of Ana Lains are presented in collaboration with the Saab Family and the Portuguese / American Cultural Exchange.
Fado, the soul of Portugal, comes to the US!
Fado is a form of Portuguese urban folk music that grew out of the streets and taverns of Lisbon in the 19th Century. It is characterized by mournful melodies and lyrics, often about the sea, neighborhoods, or the life of the poor. Known for its dramatic performance practices and passionate aficionados, Fado is infused with sentiments of resignation, nostalgia and deep melancholy. For almost two hundred years, it has represented the saudade, the longing of the people of Portugal - the sailor returning from the colonies, the impoverished flower girl in the mercado, the wealthy Lord in love with an untamable gypsy fadista. Fado means fate, and to the people of Portugal, the music is as powerful as destiny itself.