Herald: Goan Fadista wins Portuguese hearts

Goan Fadista wins Portuguese hearts

10 Feb 2019 06:08am IST

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10 Feb 2019 06:08am IST

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One of Goa’s rising stars, Nadia Rebelo, the daughter of late James Rebelo, is set to take her journey with music to a scale higher. Nadia speaks about this and shares her recent experiences in Portugal including performing the Fado on the programme “Agora Nós” for the RTP channel

Sitting at a restaurant, the guests are seen shifting in their seats, trying to get a glimpse of the singer. They say one of the simplest and strongest compliments an artiste can receive, is when they perform in front of an audience, who don’t know anything about them, but are left mesmerised with their performance.

Like this show, it is quite common for the audience to be impressed with this young Goan singer’s vocal ability and range.  Not only has Nadia Rebelo, captivated audiences across the state in the past,  be it at a concert, a competition or a cover video on YouTube that goes viral, she recently left quite an impression in Portugal.

While Nadia has performed in Portugal in the past and has already established a career in Goa as a Fadista; this trip, which was meant to be for an academic purpose, ended up being a fantastic musical journey full of inspiration and rich experiences.  

Nadia had recently gone to Portugal to do a Portuguese language course at the University of Aveiro. Later she returned to Lisbon where Casa de Goa organized a beautiful concert for her at the "Casa da Amália" and the musicians who backed her up, had also backed  Amália Rodrigues at a few of her concerts.

Nadia, who adores Amália Rodrigues, the most legendary Portuguese Fadista from Lisbon, felt this was truly a moment of joy and excitement for her.

This was only the beginning; she later had had two interviews on the Portuguese Radios, one on RDP and the other on Radio Amália and even performed the Fado on the programme "Agora Nós" for the RTP channel.

“I met a lot of Portuguese people who were amused that a Goan girl sang the Fado almost like a Portuguese. I was told that I have a Portuguese soul with an exotic feel. This trip also offered a perspective on how the Goan Fado is viewed in Portugal and also given that Fado has already become a big part of me, it has made me even more determined to prove our worth as a unique Goan Fadista,” says Nadia, while praising the various platforms in Goa and other Goan stars who have kept the legacy of Fado alive.

Incidentally, her collaborations with Portuguese artistes were also recognised and for instance, she was invited to sing at a Casa de Fado "Adega Machado”, by the renowned Portuguese Fadista Pedro Moutinho, who had earlier performed in Goa in the past.

It may be recalled Nadia had performed alongside the renowned Portuguese fadista "Marco Rodrigues and the famous Portuguese Fadista, Claudia Duarte, at their respective concerts held in Goa in the past.

People in Portugal were curious to know about Nadia’s achievements. In 2015, Nadia had released her debut Fado album “Fado Português" at the hands of the Consul General of Portugal in Goa, Dr. Rui Baceira.

Nadia had also won competitions like Vem Cantar and Concurso do Fado. 

Being called to perform at the World Goa Day in Porto in 2014, it gave her an opportunity to sing at various Casas de Fado across Portugal, something she enjoyed performing this time around as well.

“While I continued singing at different Casas do Fado while in Lisbon, I felt this feeling of wanting to embrace the Goan Fado, even more. So based on this inspiration I plan to soon be creating more videos, showing more of the Fado so that our Goan identity as Fadistas can be recognized across the world,” adds Nadia.

When asked what encouraged her to get into music in the first place, Nadia credits her parents, late James Rebelo, one of Goa’s top musicians and her mother Vera.

A Seraulim girl and the granddaughter of Ponda, Nadia grew up in a home which always had music playing every day and she reminisces about the days that paved the path to who she is today.

“One of my best memories I have, is when I was a child, singing together as a family at the ‘restaurant our family owned, named "The Picket Fence", when we had the "Music Night". I also remember my dad training me to participate in my first Portuguese singing competition wherein he taught me a song in a single day and I participated with it. He always encouraged me to participate for the experience and the personal growth and not for the sake of winning, as every experience, a win or a loss, would teach me something,” says Nadia.

“And of course, none of our birthdays and parties would be complete without picking up the guitar and having jam sessions because the full family was very musically cultured and loved music and this tradition still continues, “Nadia added.

And Nadia believes, the family support she has received, has played a major role in shaping her career and influencing her as a Fadista.

“Fado is definitely not the easiest genres of music and so there is always a lot of hard work involved. It wasn't easy at all, especially after I lost my dad but my mum continued to encourage me and we gained the courage to overcome the obstacles and come out stronger. She makes me have the courage to make my wishes and dreams come true and has been very supportive towards my Fado career and my pillar of support,” says Nadia.

In many ways, for Nadia, Fado seems like a perfect fit. “Fado, according to my belief, is a type of song that lets us empathise with the singer and takes us back in time. It is a reminiscence of the past and lets us understand how life was, in those days. Their pain and happiness was and is expressed through a poem with melodies/tunes giving emphasis to the story the artiste is trying to portray, making Fado for me, one of the most beautiful types of singing,” adds Nadia.

Besides Fado, Nadia is also popular for her performances in various others genres, such as Jazz, Pop, country, R&B and languages other than Portuguese such as English and Konkani.

And her powerful renditions, especially when it comes to covering artiste,s who are known to be tough to emulate, like Whitney Houston, have always made people listening to her sit up and take notice.

It so happens that Whitney Houston is one of the singers she loves the most and she believes it because of the feeling and intensity with which Whitney and her other idol Amália Rodrigues sang and expressed themselves through a song.

“That, for me, is the main thing one should have. Expressing our feelings through the songs that we sing shows the passion we have towards music and how much we love doing, what we do and when that emotion is able to be passed to the listener, that empathy or understanding is our true goal. It's more like a dream job for me,” concludes Nadia.  

(With inputs from 

Mellisa Pacheco)
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