Misia, Portugal's Melancholy Muse
Singer's Powerful Voice Evokes the Fateful Sadness of Fado
Listen to Jacki Lyden's interview with Misia.
July 13, 2002 -- Songs of longing and despair are a national tradition in Portugal -- a musical tradition called fado. The word comes from the Latin fatum, meaning fate, destiny or doom.
Fado emerged from the brothels and taverns of Lisbon about 200 years ago, and were first sung by lonely sailors. Today the songs are mostly performed in restaurants and special fado clubs.
Female fado singers, called fadistas, perform these fateful songs usually while draped in black shawls, standing very still. Among the newest wave of fado singers, adding her own contemporary twists to the musical tradition, is a singer named Misia.
She just goes by the one name, and she is extremely popular -- especially among the younger set in Portugal. She recently spoke to guest host Jacki Lyden about the melancholy nature of the fado, and keeping the tradition alive for a new generation of fado fans.
Why are fado songs so sad? "I think it is the ocean," Misia tells Lyden. "We are a little country... with a big, big ocean in front of us. (Fado) is our way to talk and sing about our feelings."
Some of Portugal's finest writers craft lyrics for Misia -- such as Portuguese poet Fernando Passoa, who wrote "Dança De Mágoas" from Misia's 1998 CD Garras Dos Sentidos. Here's a sample:
Like a uselessly full glass/
Which no one lifts from the table/
My heart without sadness overflows/
With a sadness all its own.
"For me it is the only way to be alive," Misia says about her singing. "And to put outside what I have inside. The only way of... cleaning my ghosts and shadows."
Misia Online official Web site.