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Q&A Camané, fado singer: Fado reconnects with younger generations

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Born into a family of musicians and singers, Camané has become one of the most successful artists of contemporary fado. His work has contributed greatly to the creation of a new golden era of Portuguese music and pulling the genre out of obscurity. The artist was in Macau last Saturday to perform at Venetian’s CotaiArena. At the end of the show, preformed as part of Macau’s Literary Festival, he received a standing ovation. Later he talked with local journalists about current fado culture and his impressions of Macau.  

- Fado has been on the spotlight again, regaining the popularity it had lost. And you have been one of the artists that contributed to its resurgence. How do you describe this change?

Camané – When I started to sing fado, my contemporaries thought that I was weird, because I sang music that they didn’t understand. They did not even want to understand it. I was ashamed, in school some classmates joked with me. When I started to perform in ‘Casas de Fado’ [venues where fado is sung], the other singers had about forty plus years on me. But they taught me well and I developed in the midst of fado and people passionate about it.  I distanced myself from my friends because they did not identify themselves with the music that I created. After a few years, especially after my second album, I started to reconnect with my own generation. However it was very difficult. I remember that when I recorded my first album no one invited me to perform on television.

- When did you start to realize that the tide had turned for fado?

Camané – In 1997-1998 I won several press prizes and journalists, especially the younger ones, started to pay attention to my work. This was  at a time when nobody else paid attention to fado. Musicians that preferred other genres liked what I did and started to invite me to collaborate with them. It was these musicians who helped open doors for me.

- Is fado popular  internationally or is it constrained to Portugal?

Camané – At this point I play as much in Portugal as I do overseas. My scheduled for next year indicates that I will play mostly out of the country. That said,  I am always playing in Portugal. A ‘best off’ album, including themes from all my albums, is to be released and I will be performing this in Lisbon and Oporto.

- What has caused growing international popularity of fado?

Camané – The recent inclusion of fado to the list of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage was important and fado is often included in world music festivals. Yet the interest and curiosity towards fado has always existed, it is just more consistent and festivals often include fado.

- How was the reception that you had here in Macau?

Camané - I really liked the concert. I think that I was able to construct a good relationship with the audience. I was a bit nervous at the beginning, because usually I have trouble when singing in places where the air conditioning is switched on. I started on the defensive but it got better and the concert grew. I guess that even people who don’t understand Portuguese have gotten used to this genre.

- How did you find the city, compared with previous visits?

Camané – Completely different. It looks like another city. The first time I was here was in 1997, after that I visited in 1999 before the Handover. Those were different concerts, of a smaller scale. I visited again in 2005 or 2006 where I did a concert in the Cultural Center along with the Macau’s Chinese Orchestra and my musicians. Each time I come, I notice how quickly things are built. I remember the scarcity of buildings in Coloane and Taipa and today there is one more city. It’s incredible

- Besides the ‘best off’, are you working on any other projects?

Camané - Following the ‘best off’ I will record another album to be released in 2014. It is made up from 15 themes. The lyrics are written but the music is still to be composed. The style reflects my personality, as always, but this is the first time that I have recorded an album in which a single person writes the lyrics and poetry. I can’t reveal who he is, but he is a writer. I can only say that the fifteen pieces that he has written are really great. This is actually the first time I have talked about this new album.

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