SECOND GLANCE: Q&A with Ana Moura
It seems that with each passing year the popularity of Fado, a specifically Portuguese musical tradition, grows by leaps and bounds. While Fado may be just arriving on the radar for some, it's centuries old. And it's about as essential to Portuguese identity as an appreciation for navigational history or adulation for the word saudade.
SECOND GLANCE: Q&A with Ana Moura
It seems that with each passing year the popularity of Fado, a specifically Portuguese musical tradition, grows by leaps and bounds. While Fado may be just arriving on the radar for some, it’s centuries old. And it’s about as essential to Portuguese identity as an appreciation for navigational history or adulation for the word saudade.
What is saudade? Fadistas sing it, literally. Most lusophones will you tell that it can’t be translated. Saudade is like longing and nostalgia wrapped together in one, but more. Saying that you’re with “saudade” of someone, if the most common way to say you miss them, but it’s more than that too. Saudade links an urgency to reconnect with a cryptic sense that it may not happen. Legend has it the word came from sailors and their loved ones, separated by the sea on long (often lost) voyages, but no one has the definite etymology. You can hear the word countless times in music from around the Portuguese-speaking world, but in Fado, backed by classical and Portuguese guitars, vocalists attempt to embody it.
Fado is traditionally sung in casas de fado, taverns covered with photos from floor to ceiling, packed tight with tables and voices. If there’s no roster for the night, fadistas rise to sing as the music moves them to — think Quaker meeting, only with notes of heartbreak.
Amalia Rodrigues first brought Fado to the international stage and still considered by her countrymen as the queen. But nearly half a century after Rodrigues’ 1960s heyday, Fado is experiencing a resurgence. The younger generation is adding rock and pop to the mix. Musicians like Mariza, Camané and Dulce Pontes are going multi-platinum and appearing in movies. And then there’s Ana Moura. She’s like the devil’s food of the Fado scene. She’s got a soul-tinged darkness and richness happening. Prince and Mick Jagger are famously under her spell. We caught up with the chanteuse to talk about her background and where she thinks Fado is headed. Here’s what she had to say.
City Paper: You come from a musical family and began singing with relatives at home. Was anyone in your family a professional musician or were you the first?
Ana Moura: At the professional level, I’m the first. But actually, my family is filled with musicians. Evenings were always filled with music and contributed plenty to me choosing to make a life out of music in the end.
CP: On Jô Sares [the premiere late-night show in Brazil], you sang a song in Kimbundu. How often do you sing in the Angolan dialect? Your parents lived in Angola, did you learn the dialect from them?
AM: In concerts, I normally don’t sing in Kimbundu. I have a deep passion for African music, but I don’t make a habit out of performing Angolan songs, nor songs from other African whereabouts, in concerts. In fact, the African songs that I know were taught to me in large part by my family.
CP: I’ve read that the cover band that you were in was pop-rock. I’ve also read that there was a lot of soul. Was it a bit of everything or was there a genre in particular that you played more?
AM: [As] it was a cover band, it wound up having a bit of everything, but the base was pop-rock. Soul is in my genetic make-up because my principal influences are all soul artists.
CP: You cite Amalia Rodrigues, Nina Simone, Etta James and Elis Regina as principal inspirations. How has each one influenced your sound?
AM: I think each one has influenced me as an artist, and even as a woman. They’re great references, singers who I admire very much.
CP: What is it like to be at the forefront of what people are calling Novo Fado?
AM: I don’t know. Sincerely, this designation of “Novo Fado,” to me, doesn’t say much. I’m concerned with Fado itself, in being a fadista the best way I know how. I don’t think that there is Novo Fado. Obviously, every singer, musician or composer that comes to fado brings new ideas, but I don’t think this represents a “new Fado.” It always comes from the natural process.
CP: How do you think Fado will evolve in the future?
AM: The most important thing is that Fado continues to be appreciated by new generations so that new talents always continue to appear. This vitality is excellent for Fado.
CP: How do you think your Fado will evolve in the future?
AM: I’m not a person who makes plans for the future. I always prefer to go living each project that my career has afforded me. I just want to continue to be happy doing what I do.
CP: How has touring changed or augmented your take on saudade artistically?
AM: Perhaps it’s helped me better understand the meaning of “saudade.” When I stay away from home for a while I become more nostalgic, sensitive, because I miss the things that are fundamental to my life: my family, my friends, my house, and so…
CP: For Americans who’ve never heard you or your style of music, what do you consider most important to know about Fado?
AM: I think the best thing is to bring people to hear Fado. Fado isn’t easily explained. It’s difficult to rationalize Fado. I’m certain that when people hear Fado, in a proper atmosphere, they understand it immediately.
CP: We know that you’re coming to North America in February. Do you have any plans to play Philadelphia?
AM: For now, there’s nothing confirmed for Philadelphia, but I would adore singing there. I’m open to invitations, for I’d do everything in my power to be there. :)
(Note: Shout-out to Nathalie for lending a hand with the translation.)
- Arts Events
- First Person Fest
- Last Chance
- On the Fringe
- Philly Artists
- The Curator
- Visual Art
- Arts News
- Artist Profile
- Arts Preview
- Street Art
- Been There, Done That
- Big Ups
- LOL With It
- Critical Mass
- Friday Fill-in
- Ice Cubes
- In Memoriam
- Just Do It
- Just Opened
- Art Phag
- Film Fest
- Movie Review
- On set
- 10 Track Mind
- Album Review
- Concert Review
- Local Support
- Now Hear This
- One Track Mind
- Philly Bands
- Somebody Else Was There
- The Showdown
- concert photos
- DJ Nights Blogged
- Night Watch
- Now See This
- Poetic License
- Printed Matter
- What We Heart
- Idol Hands
- Mad Men
- True Blood
- Useless Lost Recaps
- Couch Potato
- Shore Trash
- Turned ONN
- Video Games
- Free Online Game
- PlayStation 2
- The 1-Upper
- Web Junk
- CAGE MATCH
- Free Online Toy
- Weekend Omnibus