Arts, Culture & Media

Global Hit

For our Global Hit today, we go to Portugal. Portugal: the once-great empire that ruled the world. Its sailors and conquerors were so far from home for so long that their women would lament their absence. Those laments turned into music...fado, or "fate." The plaintive songs of fado have become Portugal's musical signature. So much so that even artists that aren't fado at all are somehow connected to it. The World's Marco Werman has an example.

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Hang on a second I hear you say. That's not plaintive. And it's not fado. Both true. But the music is Portuguese.

This is the Portuguese sextet Cla. That means clan. The song -- titled "Adeus Amor Bye Bye" -- is their version of sentimental. Cla's from Portugal's second largest city, Porto.

That's the band's lead singer, Manuela Azevedo.

?Lisbon is full of sun, and white, and everything, and with big streets, and Porto is grey, with narrow streets, smaller than Lisbon, much smaller than Lisbon. Colder than Lisbon also. But with very well-humored people. It's really a great town, a great city. MW: Better humored than Lisbon people? MA: Yeah, yeah!?

The people of Porto are so good-humored that Cla even has a song called "Usefulness of Humor": "Utlidade do Humor."

?Musically speaking in rhythm and everything, we don't really have a connection with traditional music, fado or other kinds of traditional Portuguese music because we are really into Anglo-Saxon music and pop-rock.?

The language is the real connection to Cla's roots as a Portuguese band, says Manuela Azevedo, and taps into the same sound you might hear in fado.

?Because the way that the language sounds has that kind of soul that Portuguese people and Portuguese music has. So if we have any connection with our culture it's because we sing in Portuguese.?

Seven out of the top ten songs on the charts there now are Anglo-Saxon artists singing in English. And when most people hear Portuguese-language music they think Brazil. These factors push a lot of Portuguese artists to resort to English as their musical lingua franca.

So a band like Cla, is making a statement about its culture when it seek Portuguese songwriters to work with, and when it decides to perform not in English, but in Portuguese.

?That I think brings a lot of our country and of our way of feeling and the way that we sound, the way that we dream, the way that we are.?

Fado may be connected to the sound of the Portuguese language. But the emotions -- high and low -- of Portuguese musicians are connected to where the country lies, on the far western side of Europe.

?We in our country have a very mixed feeling about that position because we are facing the sea and feeling lonesome, and sometimes isolated because we are very far from the rest of Europe, and far from the rest of the world, and we get a bit sad sometimes, but in our history, we were one of the first explorers to go in search for new lands, so the sea has that kind of calling also to, to experience other things.?

And Manuela Azevedo -- and Cla -- are definitely exploring new territory.

For The World, I'm Marco Werman.