Portuguese Fado: Sofia Ramos in Lisbon’s Baixo Chiado

Fado, roughly translated as ‘fate’ in English, is a type of music that started in Portugal in the early 19th century. A little like the better known Flamenco, the music traditionally shows an outpouring of grief, melancholy or bitterness and therefore many Fado artists sing about love and loss (saudade in Portuguese)

More recently, Fado has undergone a revival among the younger Portuguese generations, becoming more diverse in style. It’s very popular in the bars of Lisbon’s Baixo Chiado and I was lucky enough to catch a performance by Sofia Ramos. Relatively new to Fado and still in voice training, Sofia used to be an actress and this comes across in her emotional performance. The intonation of each word and the undulating pitches in Fado are incredibly difficult for young singers to grasp, however when done well, you don’t need to speak the language to understand the message of the song.

Here’s a video of Sofia singing a slightly upbeat number, accompanied by two Fado guitarists:


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