March 5, 2010

Amália Rodrigues - Queen of Fado




This picture was taken in Lisbon's Pena district where, in 1920, Amália da Piedade Rodrigues, who was to become one of Portugal’s most beloved fado singers and actresses.

Such was Rodrigues’ success that she was known as the Queen of Fado (Rainha do Fado) and during her 40 years on the fado stage she was able to popularize the genre internationally. This she did by breaking fado out of its traditional mold and rewriting the rules according to her own unforgettable way of singing. One way she did this was via an encounter with the composer Frederico Valério, who helped her put her singing to an orchestral accompaniment – a first in fado singing.

In spite of fado being a quintessentially Portuguese form, she found a partner throughout the 1960's in the French composer Alain Oulman, who wrote most of her songs - many of which deviated from the typical fado sound.

By the 1980's, Rodrigues had established herself as a living legend, and continued recording right through the decade. She died in 1999 - on a day that was declared a day of national mourning. She is buried in the National Pantheon in Lisbon.

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