Fado is rooted in Portugal. Its tales are vast, with the power to reduce people to tears. Nathalie Pires is the first American fado singer to tour internationally, and subject of a new short film, ‘Echoes of Fado’, from Newark based film makers Yuri and Igor Alves.
“Fado translates to fate or destiny, and it’s important because it’s a form of therapy. There’s a fado for each kind of emotion that you’ve ever felt or lived through,” Pires said. “When I would perform in California or anywhere in North America even Canada, and say I was from New Jersey, they would say Newark is the cathedral of fado. They would invest in bringing singers from the other side of the Atlantic, from Portugal. They always had the biggest names in fado perform here. That was very inspiring for the community, and for the immigrants that left Portugal to sit in an event and relive everything they were longing for through the voice of a singer.”
Nathalie’s co-star in Echoes of Fado is Portuguese singing legend Anita Guerreiro.
“What’s fun about Anita is that usually there’s this persona behind fado that you have to be this heartbroken person or this really miserable person to sing this kind of music. That’s not the vibe you get from Anita. She loves to make everybody comfortable around her and she’s always making jokes. There’s something about her that just makes people love her,” said Pires. “She’s still singing in Portugal; they keep celebrating her. She always feels uncomfortable like ‘what am I dying, why are they doing this for me?’. The truth is she’s a living legend that’s who Anita Guerreiro is in Portugal, and around the world in Portuguese communities.”
Fado’s popularity stems from Portugal, but Nathalie, one of the music’s most promising singers says its origins are unknown.
“People say that maybe it started out in sea, maybe they hear Brazilian influences, or maybe even the streets of Lisbon, but nobody really knows. What I’ve found from audiences that don’t speak Portuguese is that people are very empathetic, and even though they don’t understand the language they still feel a connection and love fado. It’s a special form of music.”
Caroline Sincaruk, one of the film’s editors, says it would be a tall task to make a feature length film on fado.
“[Nathalie’s] father in the movie who almost acts as a narrator describes it perfectly. You can’t really describe fado. There’s no origin so it’s just nice to be able to appreciate it now.”