This Gallotone LP is testament to a sophisticated Lusophone music scene in southern Africa more than fifty years ago. It is also an important and beautiful record of Moçambique’s gift to the Portugese and global canon of Fado music.
Most important, this LP is the earliest recording that Electric Jive knows of Moçambican singer Joao Maria Tudella (below right) who went on to become a globally recognised Fado singer. The estimated date of this Johannesburg recording is 1955 or 1956 (GALP1011). This album also contains important Moçambican Fado compositions, including the perernially popular “Uma Casa Portuguesa” which is about: "The Portugese home has its own characteristics. It is simple and lives off the sincere friendship of those who belong to it, and values more the tenderness of a kiss to the warmth of a fireplace which often they cannot afford." (from the back cover).
An authoritative 1973 essay by musicologist Margaret Nabarro captures the fascinating history of Fado in Moçambique.
“As in Portugal, the accompaniment to the Fado in Lourenço Marques was provided by the two guitarists, the Portuguese guitar providing the melody and the Spanish guitar providing the harmony, often a ground bass.
“Although most of the fados performed in Lourenço Marques came from Lisbon there were examples of locally produced fados. Artur Fonseca, the brother of Antonio Fonseca, the guitar player, studied music in Lisbon and he is a composer of considerable repute. One of his best successes is the fado “Uma Casa Portuguesa. This fado is internationally known and has been sung and recorded in Lisbon by many famous singers including Amalia Rodrigues, who is still regarded by most as the “Queen of fado singers”. The libretto of «Uma Casa Portuguesa» was written as a poem by two young Lourenço Marques poets, Matos Sequeira and Reinaldo Ferreira. The first performance was given in Lourenço Marques in the Spring of 1954 at the Radio Clube de Moçambique and the singer was Sara Chaves.” Read more here.
Fado Singer Joao Maria Tudella was born in Moçambique in 1929 and schooled in South Africa. He was unsuccessful in his law studies in Coimbra, Portugal and was forced by his family to return to Mozambique. Tudella persisted with his singing passion and became famous for it. This recording is one of the earliest and was made while he was still working in Lourenco Marques either for Shell or for an insurance company. In 1959 he linked up with the South African Dan Hill band and had an international hit with the song Kanimambo. Tudella persisted with singing Fado and went on to tour America, Brazil and became a big hit in Portugal in the 1960s, winning numerous awards and national prizes there. Read more about him here.
Gallotone issued a follow-up Lusophone issue (GALP 1067) in 1959 to celebrate the first anniversary of the “new” Moçambique Restaurant in Noord Street, Johannesburg – “Cabaret at the Mocambique”. You can find most of the songs of this recording over at our good friend Soul Safari.
This post goes out to "music-knitter Nauma at the freedomblues blogsite - thanks Nauma for sharing all the wonderful Fado and other Lusophone music you have posted recently!