Twenty-five-year-old Ana Moura is one of Portugal's top Fado singers today, and GUARDA ME A VIDA NA MAO or KEEP MY LIFE IN YOUR HAND is her American debut.
Like many young people Ana Moura experimented with pop/rock sound, actually singing in a band in her teens - but Fado, her love since childhood, kept calling. Eventually it took over her musical life, and Ana started singing in the Fado houses (clubs) where she learned from the older singers.
Now, Fado is know as a style where emotion is paramount; but skill is also required as well as knowledge of tradition.
The greater Fado audience does not require its heroes to be strictly traditional and Fadistas (Fado singers) do innovate somewhat.
You'd think that having come from the pop/rock scene, Ana Moura would pump up her Fado, but she does just the opposite: her music is surprisingly soft, even when she occasionally gives it a danceable beat.
One of the elements helping Ana Moura's music and career is her association with Jorge Fernando, the long-time guitarist for the incomparable Amelia Rodrigues, the queen of Fado who dominated Fado for decades.
Ana Moura's singing is more subtle. Will she eventually be as great as Amelia? Only time will tell: meantime, she's terrific right now.
The subtitle to the terrific anthology ROUGH GUIDE TO FADO, an anthology of Portugal's most famous music form, is 'A Tale of Two Cities: Passion and Elegance". Apparently fado music originally grew up in two cities with two distinct styles: Lisbon, where fado came from the lower classes and outlaws, later joined by the upper classes; and the second city of Coimbra, where it originally started with students.
In both towns fado is thought to have started by the influence of people returning from Portugal's colonies around the world during the 19th century. Of course, over time, generations have brought fado to every region of Portugal, and singers and players in each region have brought in their own influences to the music - including music forms from outside of Portugal (jazz, rock, etc.).
It seems that every time fado moves in a more modern direction, a reaction to that emerges and a new singing sensation reverts to an older 'classic' style, which of course may have been considered very modern and even revolutionary decades before (sounds like the near-constant battle going on in American country music today!).
This goes on in nearly every form of music: it keeps the form healthy, with the occasional fad of getting back to the roots versus innovation and modernizing. What has this got to do with ROUGH GUIDE TO FADO, you may ask? The answer: plenty!
Listen to all nineteen tracks recorded over a sixty- or more year period: the constant moving forward with periodic returns to older forms is evident in the signing of both the male and female vocalists.
Strangely, when comparing fado to other music forms, the music of its closest neighbor Spain rarely comes up; but the music of Italy and even Greece does.
If you've never had the pleasure of listening to fado and feeling its emotional pull, you need ROUGH GUIDE TO FADO: an excellent recording for a solid introduction, it holds all the greats of fado over the last century - including of course Amalia Rodrigues, the "queen of fado".
Today fado singers, particularly the females, tour the world bringing what some call 'Portugal's blues' to the open ears of millions.
ROUGH GUIDE TO FADO should also help spread the world - and as is usual in the Rough Guide series its liner notes are very informative and excellent.
LUSOFONIA is the word used when referring to Portugal and her former colonies where Portuguese is still the chief language.
Maria Teresa lives in France, but is originally from Portugal: she loves the music of her native land but chose not to be a fado singer, as there are other Portuguese styles she remembers from her childhood: lullabies and folk styles her mother sang.
As an adult Maria Teresa absorbed the morna style of Cape Verde and particularly the bossa and other styles of Brazil.
LUSOFONIA tends to be soft and gentle: an album of songs only occasionally given in to deep emotion (fado, on the other hand, is dominated by emotion).
The musicianship on LUSOFONIA is second to none: accordion, acoustic guitar, saxophone, percussion - a true multi-instrumental effort in an excellent meeting of voice and instruments makes LUSOFONIA a top pick.