Fado Novato

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Read cover article from the national Portuguese publication, Diário de Noticias.

Fado is a form of Portuguese urban folk music that grew out of the streets and taverns of Lisbon in the 19th Century. It is characterized by mournful melodies and lyrics, often about the sea, neighborhoods, or the life of the poor. Known for it's dramatic performance practices and passionate aficionados, Fado is infused with sentiments of resignation, nostalgia and deep melancholy. For almost two hundred years, it has represented the saudade, the longing of the people of Portugal - the sailor returning from the colonies, the impoverished flower girl in the mercado, the wealthy Lord in love with an untamable gypsy fadista. Fado means fate, and to the people of Portugal, the music is as powerful as destiny itself.

The project started as an argument in a Kansas City tavern over which style of music is "the saddest music in the world.” A few days later three American musicians (vocalist Shay Estes, and guitarists Beau Bledsoe and Jordan Shipley) formed the ensemble Fado Novato (“Fado beginner”). The three, having recently discovered one another's fascination with Fado, hatched a plan: they will attempt to learn and perform Fado music from the state of uneducated novices to world-stage professionals and will document the entire process. A full-length studio recording and a concert will cap the project.

This process will incorporate instruction from Fado artists around the world, a commissioned Portuguese guitar, and eventual travel to Lisbon and Coimbra to work with
fadistas from famous Fado houses. There will also be extensive research of various Fado sub-genres and the cultural significance of each one, and the creation of a collection of original musical arrangements. The entire process will be extensively photographed and filmed; periodic recordings and videos will be posted on the website and facebook page. Frequent twitter and blog updates will allow followers to watch the group’s progress in real time, and comment and interact with the process. The world will be able to witness the transformation of Fado Novato to Fado perito!