Ana Moura brought Fado music to the Twin Cities in her mid-February appearance at The Dakota Jazz Club. For those of you who are not familiar with Fado, it’s a Portuguese music form that is most often identified with feelings of loss and melancholia, and an acceptance of one’s fate. It dates back to the early 19th century, when it was first performed by sailors and members of the urban working class. Fado has had a resurgence in Portugal, thanks to young performers like Moura. Mind you, I don’t know Portuguese, and until a couple of weeks ago, had little idea of the music myself.
Moura entered the stage quietly, after her band (bass, classical guitar, and Portuguese guitar) had begun the first song. As soon as she began singing, it seemed that waves of longing washed over the audience, most of whom, like myself knew no Portuguese. Maybe I’m projecting my own response onto others, but it did seem that the audience was highly involved in her performance.
Moura has a slightly smoky voice, perfect for communicating heartbreak and sadness. That expressive voice, combined with evocative melodies, tapped a deep well of emotion and the audience responded in kind. She didn’t need any grand gestures to communicate. A slight movement of her hips or shoulder in time to the music would signal her delight in the music. The slightest hand movement was all that was needed to encourage the audience to clap in time to the more rhythmic numbers. It was during the faster numbers that Angelo Fadou, on Portuguse guitar, astounded listeners with his facile and imaginative playing.
About half way through the hour and 45 minute set, Moura talked about working with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. She then sang “No Expectations,” mixing English and Portuguese. As sung by Moura, it was not only beautiful in a way I had never imagined, but fit right in with the rest of her repertoire.
Moura’s performance was warm, inviting and uplifting. I know that sounds odd given the melancholy nature of the songs, but the audience’s response was just as warm. It it now obvious to me why Moura is a rising international star, with fans that include The Rolling Stones and Prince, who was in attendance that evening. For what little it is worth, I am now a fan as well.