Top 5 Fado singers of all time

Fado comes from Portugal! In a few words, Fado is the truest expression of the Portuguese soul. It is a popular music genre that was born in Lisbon. While listening to Fado, you will notice that when the rhythm is slower, the song is usually related to nostalgia and feelings of sadness. However, when the rhythm is faster, the song refers to joy, happiness and amusement. Most of the time, Fado lyrics are about love, tragedies, sorrow, difficulties in life, and Saudade among other emotions and themes. Normally, there is only one voice accompanied by a Portuguese guitar.

Between 1840 and 1869, the Fado was spontaneous and very popular, it used to be sung in taverns and narrow alleys. It used to be associated with prostitution, vagrancy and expressed melancholy, sadness, fear, bitterness, feelings that were characteristic of these people. But it did not last long, until Fado obtained more fans from the bourgeoisie and the nobility that were willing to go to the poorer and most damaged neighborhoods to listen to it.

Between the 1930’s and the 1950’s, the Fado experienced a glorious period, which coincided with the advent of the radio, enabling the broad and efficient exposure of the Fado. Over the years, the Fado adapted accordingly to its times and was modernized. This is why it is timeless and will always be heard in the streets of Lisbon!

É por amor que cantamos até já não termos voz;
É por amor que se aposta toda a vida num segundo;
Porque quando a gente gosta muda tudo até o mundo.

It is for Love’s sake that we sing until we’re voiceless;
It if for Love’s sake that we stake our life in a second;
Because when one loves, everything changes, even the world.

As you see in Kátia Guerreiro’s lyrics, the theme of the song is love. The rhythm is joyful, which means it is to be interpreted as a happy feeling. It talks about what one is capable of when in love. Love has no boundaries. We have to embrace the feeling of Love. If you want to find out more about Fado and Fado singers, read on and discover my top 5 Fado singers of all time!

The queen: Amália Rodrigues

First on my top 5 Fado singers of all time is obviously the most famous one, the Queen of Fado, Amália Rodrigues! She is the most representative figure of the Fado music genre. If you need to know one Fado singers, Amália Rodrigues is definitely the one you should know about!

Amália’s singings talents were essential to the definition of the Fado music genre. Thanks to her, Fado has travelled around the world, from Lisbon, Europe to the United States, she was the first Portuguese woman ever to appear on American television, on NBC TV show Coke Time with Eddie Fisher in 1953.

A lot of her songs simply were the poems of some of the greatest poets of Portugal, that are now classics that were performed by a new generation of Fado singers.

Amália Rodrigues died in 1999 and her contribution to the Portuguese culture was recognized. She was honoured for it and given a tomb in the Panteão Nacional in Lisbon. Also, the house where she used to live in Lisbon was turned into a museum. I strongly advise you to visit these two places if you want to learn more about Amália Rodrigues and important Portuguese figures in general.

The most faithful to the tradition: Camané

Next on my top 5 Fado singers of all time is Camané, who is considered to be the greatest male Fado singer of the new generation of Fado singers. His first album, called Uma Noite de Fados (A Night of Fados, in English), was recorded in 1995. Since then, he has recorded half a dozen of other albums that have reached many countries around the world, from Europe to Asia. If you enjoy traditional Fado, I’m sure you will like his songs!

The diva: Mariza

For some, she is thought to be the “new” Amália. I present you Mariza! She is indeed, without a doubt, the most successful Fado singer of recent years. She’s very famous both nationally and internationally. Mariza has sung in some of the greatest music venues of Europe, United States, and Australia.

Born in Mozambique from a Portuguese father and an African mother, she moved to Lisbon when she was a child. At an early age, she started singing a little of everything, from pop songs to Fado songs. One can see the influences in her records, because her Fado brings together many different instruments and rhythms, although the majority of her songs are Portuguese classical themes.

If you get to see her live performing, I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy it, since she has a very strong presence!

The captivating: Dulce Pontes

Although she offers a panel of several musical styles when singing, Dulce Pontes is one of the greatest responsible for the revival of Fado and for appearance of new Fado singers, which is why she is part of my top 5 Fado singers of all time!

Dulce Pontes is known for mixing different music styles, combining Fado with folklore and classic music, but her most impressive talent and what distringuishes her from other Fado singers is her incredibly powerful voice!

The king: Carlos do Carmo

While Amália Rodrigues is the queen of Fado, Carlos do Carmo is definitely the king! He’s definitely the greatest male Fado singer! He has recorded many albums since the 1960’s. Carlos do Carmo’s Fado songs are very traditional, but I’ve already heard a few people compare him to Frank Sinatra and some of them even heard a touch of Jazz in his performances.

My top 5 Fado singers of all time is now over, but there are still many other artists for you to listen to, such as Ana Moura, Carminho, Kátia Guerreiro for instance! This emotion-filled music genre was born in the streets of Lisbon. Walk the most traditional neighborhoods of Lisbon to have a real taste of Fado. Get lost in neighborhoods like Alfama, roam aimlessly and stumble upon its narrow alleys and cafés. Talk to the locals and learn more about their lifestyle and culture. If you’re curious and interested in Fado, I recommend you to visit the Fado Museum, the Museu do Fado. Our Alfama walking tour ends near the museum, so it can be a great opportunity to visit it! I hope to see you soon in Lisbon!

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