What is Fado?
Fado (fate or destiny in Portuguese) is a genre of music which is mostly associated and originated from Portugal, mostly in Lisbon, Portugal in the 1820’s-1830’s. Today, this music is usually played in pubs, restaurants, clubs, and cafes with typically a guitarra (Portuguese guitar), an accordion, and a piano. This music has been also widely known for being highly sad, melancholic, and emotionally expressive it is in explaining true fate and destiny in feels of regret, love, hatred, heartbreak, and depression.
Origins of Fado
This genre of music has came to life in the early 1800’s in mostly Lisbon, Portugal. Large and marginalized economic districts in the city like Mouraria, Bairro Alto, and Alfama have experienced the first signs of growth of Fado at the time.
There is not much information on the precise reason this genre of music grew. It is most widely known though as a form of music that grew on dangerous colonization voyages to the New World to give the people on that voyage hope to make it to the lands safely and give hope for the dangerous times. The voyagers did things like dance rituals and singing.
Two Main Types of Fado
There are two different variations of Fado that fadistas play. There is the Coimbra style, and the Lisbon style. These styles are rooted from two different cities with two different experiences.
Fado based in the city of Lisbon was a way to relate to others of the hard times happening in the city. In the 19th to 20th centuries, there were many restrictions on speech, art, and entertainment until the Portuguese Constitution of 1976 which allowed freedom of speech and press.
Lisbon type of Fado is very emotional, deep, and filled with large amounts of sorrow. This type of Fado is the most performed type of Fado today in Portugal by fadistas. Lisbon Fado is sung by mostly women.
The Coimbra version of the genre grew around the community of the University of Coimbra. This type of Fado is a usually a bit more romantic. This is sung by mostly men, especially in the University to get love from girls. This type of Fado is more for upper class Portuguese people, and this rarer form of Fado is more positive, and happy.
Performers of Fado Today
There are iconic 20th century fadistas out there like Amália Rodrigues (1920-1999), and Carlos do Carmo (1939-2021). There are still a good amount of current fadistas performing too such as, Manriza, Carminho, Ana Moura, and the list goes on. The most iconic one is Maria Severa, in her life of only 26 years (1820-1846). She played and performed in taverns with the guitarra. Not too much was known about her, but she is the founding mother of fadistas. She’s the first one that has risen to fame. She has created the road that led to modern Fado today.
Listen to Mariza preforming "Quem Me Dera", she is a talented fadista of the genre Fado.