The origins of Fado are uncertain. It may have its roots in the songs of troubadours, the homesickness of seafarers or the Lundum songs sung by the black slaves from Brazil. It began with popular rhythms and lyrics, in Porto and Lisbon, and as the country developed so Fado gradually evolved into something more complex. Today it is considered an important form of world music.
The word Fado comes from the Latin fatum, which means fate or destiny. It is a style of music that it is all about deep feelings: the disappointments of love, the sadness and longing felt for someone who has gone away, the everyday life of the neighbourhood and the conquests of the local inhabitants.
The first written record of Fado dates from the 19th century. Since that time the image of the music has been shaped by those who have sung it. Severa, very much a Fado singer from her own local neighbourhood, made this type of song famous in aristocratic circles through her romance with the Count of Vimioso.
Amália Rodrigues was both the voice and soul of poems written by Portuguese writers and helped to make Fado famous outside Portugal.
Mariza is the most recent revelation and has continued the tradition of these earlier singers while also providing a new form for the singing of Fado. Traditionally accompanied by the guitar, there are many ways of singing the Fado. It can range from the faster Fado corrido of Mouraria, to the impromptu singing known as desgarrada, or the mournful music of the students of Coimbra.
In 2011, Fado was classified as a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
Visit the Museu do Fado e da Guitarra Portuguesa to find our more about this music and then absorb the atmosphere of one of the Fado Houses at night.