Montreal is rife with opportunities to see, hear, learn and experience cultures from around the world. Music is no exception. We love our jazz and blues here, and Portugal has it’s own genre, called Fado. I recently interviewed Portugal’s Fado sensation, Carminho, here are some highlights about herself and her music.
Stephanie Weiner (SW): Tell me about singing Fado. When were you first introduced to the genre? How would you describe it to someone who isn’t familiar with it?
Carminho (C): I can say that Fado is traditional music from Portugal, but first of all, it is the translation of the heart, the translation of lives, people’s lives. It is more or less like our blues, it is our kind of blues. It was born in the poorest ambiances, where people needed to sing to survive. More than an art expression, it was a human expression to make a community alive and to put out feelings in order to make sure that people were able to live their lives. They started to sing normal stories about their lives and singing to each other, to have this communication, more or less like magical or sacred. It is a way of living.
SW: Growing up in a musical family, did you always know that you, too, would be a singer? Tell me about what it was like for you growing up.
C: Obviously, growing up in a family of musicians, is something that provides a beginning, but I believe that my passion for Fado is in my blood, in my soul and I choose to do it full-time because it is obviously my vocation. I have three brothers and sisters that have different professions and still they are in love with music, and my father also. But I chose it forever and with all my heart, soul, life and time. Giving everything…
SW: Who are your main musical influences?
C: My biggest influences are my mother, of course, and also Beatriz da Conceição. Beatriz da Conceição was a singer who sang a lot in my mother’s Fado House and she taught me a lot about life and Fado and how to give real importance to each word because each word has different energies and we have to sing it with all of the respect required for each one. And also, of course, Amália Rodrigues because of all her courage and that brilliant voice, brilliant talent. She was an amazing singer and person.
SW: Which is your favourite song to perform? Tell me about that.
C: I do not have a favourite song because each one is important to different moments. It represents different moments of my life or different experiences that I need to sing. So every characteristic or every moment of our lives is important. Everything is important in its own way. So, it is important to sing everything!
SW: What, if any, challenges do you anticipate bringing your music to a North American market? Are we ready to appreciate the unique style and storytelling of Fado?
C: It is good to show a little bit of what we bring, tell some stories, create some images to make people dream with each song because every song has a feeling. If you have some images to create your own story, it is going to be fantastic and magical because Fado has this incredible thing that lets you feel things even if you do not understand the lyrics. So, I presume that you are going to like it because I believe in people’s hearts and in America’s heart.
SW: From what I’ve heard, in spite of not understanding the words, your music and your voice speak volumes emotionally. (They are very expressive) What do you do to keep the balance between performing these songs and your well-being?
C: I sing exactly to feel normal and to be myself in daily life so it is like a catharsis. I need to sing to feel myself at peace, in balance. It is not a lament; it is not just sad things or nostalgia for things. We sing everything. We sing everything that is an element in our lives. We have happy things, we have happy moments, with a city, with people, with love, and we also have the sad side of that story, of the love story. So, it is important for me to have this instrument to put out my energies and to be a normal person.
SW: What are you most proud of as a musician?
C: I am proud to have people that listen to me. I think that an artist has a voice but the most important thing is to have somebody who listens to it, who listens to the message. I am very proud to have people who want to listen to me and also the magical meetings with some artists that I had collaborations with or some experiences in Brazil, in Spain, in so many places. And also I feel blessed to have a vocation, to have a gift and to have a way to express myself so I am very blessed.
You can Carminho perform her incredible storytelling music Fado, tonight during her debut Montreal performance. Get your tickets here. Theatre Outremont (1248 Bernard Ave West). November 13. 8 p.m. $51.75/$70.