Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

When decades-old music transcends boundaries

Posted by Kimberly on October 17, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
October 17, 2007, page 2 (596 words)

Widely considered to be one of the greatest Fado male singers of the new generation, Camane was in town last night, performing as part of the Macau International Music Festival. His second visit to Macau since 1999 had made the singer notice the changes in the city, most particularly in the areas of construction and the increase in the population.
The reason for this visit was via an invitation, with the conductor of the Macao Chinese Orchestra, Pang Ka Pang, having listened to his CDs and resulting in some songs which Camane sang along with the orchestra. The Fado singer brought with him three musicians who accompanied him on other songs.
Some of the songs possessed lyrics taken from one of Portugal’s most famous poets, Fernando Pessoa. Camane’s ex-wife, also a Fado singer, interestingly enough, wrote others.
Fado music, said Camane, has changed dramatically over the years, “coming out from the places where it’s usually sung.
“It’s become a more widespread genre, integrated into circles of world music, into cultural spaces like theatres and other venues,” he said.
He added that some Fado singers have made an important contribution to this, singers such as Amalia Rodrigues and Carlos do Carmo, who visited Macau last year.
“Fado has become a more professionalised type of music than it used to be,” he said.
Asked his thoughts on the Macao Chinese Orchestra, Camane recalls listening to them play in Lisbon twenty years ago, during their tour of Portugal.
“The orchestra and the conductor understand the expressions of Fado music very well,” he said, adding that, “it’s a very good thing.
“The conductor is able to be very connected to the music of Fado,” he said.
With both his father and grandfather singers of Fado music, one could say it’s in Camane’s blood, despite the cliché.
The singer confirmed this by saying, “it’s a way of existing in life.”
His grandfather, he added, was the first Fado singer to have recorded the songs onto vinyl back I the 1920s.
“This happened after two civil aviators [Sacadura Cabral and Gago Coutinho] did a crossing over the Atlantic in 1922” he said, upon whose return, his grandfather composed a very long Fado to commemorate their return.
At the age of seven, Camane recalled being ill for a month, during which time he listened sorely to Fado music on vinyl discs.
“This opened a way for me to be more involved in Fado music,” he said.
One day, after attending a restaurant, he went an asked the musicians if he could sing a song. At only eight years of age, it was his first song sung in public.
Yet in his teens, he chose to put his singing aside, partly to focus on his studies, but mostly because he felt uncomfortable with the transition his voice was taking into adulthood.
He moved back to the present, admitting that describing Fado in a single sentence is impossible.
“It’s the music that has passed the most boundaries and cultures over the past twenty or thirty years.,” he said.
Asked whether those unfamiliar with the music can still be affected by it, he said listening to Fado music was no different than that of any other culture that is capable of making a person feel emotion.
But when it comes to singers from other countries wanting to sing Fado, he believed it wasn’t so simple.
“It’s very important to have the knowledge of the Portuguese language,” he said adding that it’s a matter of authenticity.
“You have to be involved with these roots to express it.”

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