An accomplice to life
One day, I was at a camping site and someone brought me Alain Oulman, who had made a song thinking of me, o “Vagamundo”. I went listen to it and I liked it. Others followed and I went against the tide of people around her who thought that was too complicated. In fact, the guitarists had to learn Alain’s harmonies, which had nothing to do with fado, because fado is poor in harmony.
Besides the music, Alain, with his vast culture, made me acquaint with great poets. Not only did he make music, but he also went to poetry books in search of music lyrics. He dedicated a lot of time to me. It did not influence me, but, for a long time, I was very happy with the discovery he brought me. We worked a lot together.
The first album with music by Alain (1962) was important for an elite of people, but it had nothing to do with the phenomenon that happens to me. He brought other audiences to my side. But there were a lot of people that did not like it, that preferred what I sang before. Some said I did not sing fado anymore, that Alain’s fado was not fado. But this was a constant: the first fados I sang were not fados; then, Valério’s fados were not fados; then, they actually were and Alain’s were not.
At this time, a lot of poets wrote nice things for me to sing. Luís de Macedo, whose name is Chaves de Oliveira and who was a cultural attaché at the Embassy of Portugal in Paris, was introduced to me there until he married and told me he was no longer writing.
I have always scribbled a lot of things I threw away. I did a kind of humoristic verses to send to my sister Odete or to my niece Idalina. Everything was all over the place. It was not until long ago that Estrela began to rummage through the drawers, finding funny things I decided to end, and with the end of those, others were born, because of the songs that Carlos Gonçalves and Fontes Rocha made. At that time, I was sick, in bed, and I was inventing the verses. And then came the records.
My tendency to always write sad things: (…)
But I also make funny things, sometimes (…)
Ary dos Santos spent a lot of evenings here at my house. A lot of verses were made here, made for me. I would even suggest a word instead of the other and he was always in agreement with me – he was not even a bit vain about it. He wrote a lot of nice things for me. Of all he has written for me, what I like the most is probably “Alfama” (…).
Alexandre O’Neill, who was a great poet, once said that fado was very frizzy and that Alain broke it. “Gaivota”, which he made for me, is one of the things I always sing.
I sang poets, and I sang Camões. For me, Camões was a great fado singer. Is there anyone more Portuguese, and anyone with more fado than Camões: “Com que voz chorarei meu triste fado?” (“With what voice will I cry my sad fado?”). There is no one that makes better than this, for fado, nowadays. There was a big fuss about me singing Camões. I thought it was just dumb. No one can destroy a great poet by singing his verses, even if he is a bad artist.
In a book by Pedro Homem de Mello, I saw “Fria Claridade”. I liked the verses, I sang them, and they were a hit. (…)
“Olhos Fechados” and “Cuidei que tinha morrido” were made for me. They are both beautiful, but neither had great success. People did not understand them. “Povo que lavas no rio” was taken from a book. As the poem is too big, I chose only the most dramatic parts of it and arranged it, but it has other very beautiful 6-line stanzas. I fixed that music for those verses and I thought it worked well. That melody, “Fado Vitória” from Joaquim Campos, is very beautiful. It is the great chant, the dramatic one. It is a Spanish scale melody, music that gives me freedom, that allows me to change, in which I can walk inside. I always sing “Povo que lavas no rio” and I am never tired of it because I am always trying to sail through different water.
The existence of Valério, when I was beginning to sing, was formidable. He had a melody type that was made for my voice. He knew my voice very well and he wrote for me, for the entire range of my voice, up and down.