FADO – is like Marmite!

“Fado cannot be explained, it must be felt and experienced”
(quote from http://www.fado.com)

Mariza - "terra" Concert, Lagos
Mariza - "terra" Concert, Lagos

The word fado I am told means fate but the music portrays a far wider range of emotions from love, betrayal, sorrow, death, hopelessness, passion and more – in truth all the emotions we feel and can relate to. I personally believe fado to be music of the soul.

My first experience of fado music was at a fado evening organised by one of our local restaurants. I remember my introduction to fado like it was yesterday. It was a male soloist who both sung and played the traditional Portuguese guitar. Although I could barely speak a word of Portuguese, the voice like an instrument portrayed heart-felt emotions of great sadness. I am embarrassed to say as the fado artist started to sing the tears rolled down my cheeks, unchecked. Transfixed and totally almost in a trance – I was not expecting such emotion…

We happened to be guests of a Portuguese man and when he saw how much I appreciated the music he politely asked my husband if he could buy me the Fado artist’s CD. He was unemployed at the time and despite my protestations he presented his gift with pride. I accepted with humility and the seeds of my passion for fado were sown. I went on to buy several CD’s and I was soon to discover, like most music, quality and style varied considerably! I then stumbled across Mariza.- I was totally hooked and bought a couple of her CDs!

Mariza sings with great passion!
Mariza sings with great passion!

Mariza is an international star performing in major concert halls all over the world. The quality of her voice and the range of emotions she portrays, through the music, leave you spellbound. She was definitely someone I wanted to see live in concert and experience the atmosphere first hand.

You can imagine my sheer delight when someone brought to my attention Mariza was performing at the Auditório Municipal de Lagos (amphitheatre) not a million miles from where we live, and tickets were only €20. We were immediately on the phone to the Cultural Centre who was selling the tickets – just praying that we could book them making ourselves understood using just our “pigeon Portuguese. The phone call was painless and the girl spoke perfect English. Expecting to be asked for our credit card details we were amazed to reserve two tickets with only our name for reference. They would hold them for collection until 24 hrs before the concert. Hubby and I were incredulous!. We both felt it was too easy. In fact, we were convinced something had been lost in translation so we were not convinced until we rushed down to the Cultural centre to collect them. Holding the tickets in our hands the concert suddenly became a reality.

The evening of the concert was hot and airless – thank goodness the concert was held outside. We had already been warned to bring along cushions to sit on, as the seating consisted of rows of concrete benches. Although the concert did not start until 22.00 we arrived just after 21.00 as seats were not pre allocated. Sitting in a central location we had a brilliant view but surrounding seats were quickly taken, so lucky we arrived early! However, we were amazed that there were still so many empty seats by the time the concert was due to start! Still it was nice to have a little room as you certainly did not want any bodily contact with your neighbour – it was just to hot! Saying this just as the concert was starting, a couple of Portuguese ladies tried to squeeze in and wanted us to all to move up like sardines! What a cheek! They arrived late and wanted some of the best seats in the house. A Portuguese man a few seats along from us gave them their marching orders and pointed to all the empty seats elsewhere.

Mariza walked onto the stage and her presence immediately stilled the audience with expectation. She started to sing with such raw passion, you felt the music in your soul and the very fibre of your being.

She was accompanied by 4 musicians, two guitarists – one playing the traditional Portuguese guitar, keyboard player and a drummer. Initially I was not sure about the drummer but I have to concede he did add depth to some of the more upbeat songs. He was a brilliant musician and entertainer in his own right and entertained us with a brilliant solo performance while Mariza took a brief rest.

Music is the language of love and fate.

These are the words to one of the songs she sang that evening plus I have found a recording of the song. ENJOY!

O Gente Da Minha Terra

O Gente Da Minha Terra

É meu e vosso este fado
Is both mine and yours this fado
destino que nos amarra
destiny that tides us (together)
por mais que seja negado
no matter how much it is denied
às cordas de uma guitarra
by the strings of a guitar
Sempre que se ouve um gemido
whenever one hears a lament
duma guitarra a cantar
of a guitar singing
fica-se logo perdido
one is instantly lost
com vontade de chorar
With a desire to weep
Ó gente da minha terra
Oh people of my land
agora é que eu percebi
Now I’ve understand
esta tristeza que trago
This sadness which I carry on
foi de vós que a recebi
Was from you that I received
E pareceria ternura
and it would seem tenderness
se eu me deixasse embalar
If I let myself be soothed
era maior a amargura
my anguish would be greater
menos triste o meu cantar
my singing (would be) less sadder
Ó gente da minha terra
Oh people of my land

Mariza is certainly taking fado to the world stage and attracting a wider audience. We look forward to her next concert!!

WHY IS FADO LIKE MARMITE?  You either love it or hate it! 🙂

Who is your favourite Fado singer?


5 thoughts on “FADO – is like Marmite!

Add yours

  1. Though I have not a clue about marmite, I love fado… from Amalia to Mariza!
    It’s the Saudade that just turns your heart inside out, doesn’t it? It’s in the tango and the blues as well… you don’t need to understand a word, the voice is another instrument and it all works together to touch your deepest emotions. Love it! Great post and lucky you!!


    1. Hi Margaret,

      I could not believe our luck when we discovered she was performing in the Algarve. We were actually amazed that the venue was not packed out, but then we never saw one poster advertising the concert! You are certainly right when you say “It’s the Saudade that just turns your heart inside out”
      Marmite is a spread you put on bread. It’s a catchphrase…”you either love it or hate it” as it has such a strong taste!
      It’s the same with Fado… :))


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