Carlos do Carmo (Lisbon, 1939) has not yet sung in public this year. But the ambassador of fado —with a Grammy award, the Goya, and five million albums sold—, will give his last concert in Lisbon, on the 9th of November. “I have 80 years, I think that it is time to give thanks and move on.
“The bohemians real, yesterday and today, were always a few” ‘Saudade’ shot
To this fado singer universal likes to talk to the public, to explain the songs and the things of life. “I have a teacher, who I’ve personally met Frank Sinatra. From him I learned that being on stage is to receive people at home, and that is what I do. I like to sing and talk with people who have come to visit me. If it is just to hear me sing, go to the disk”. He is one of those artists that fill the stage with your voice. Not need sets of lights, or bodies of jumping dance, to capture the interest of the auditorium. “In five decades have seen a continuous evolution of the figure of the artist and an increase in the importance of the image. Women with spectacular dresses, the men, concerned by his watch. I don’t understand, the gold is the word. Not worth the technology you do more than half of the work. You have to get the audience to feel as his own the story of three minutes that you’re singing. When you get the connection of soul, heart and voice, there’s fado. That got Sinatra; to me he was a great fado singer”.
For half century, Do Carmo has been the ambassador of the fado in the world; it was not always so easy as now, not even in Portugal. “In the early years of the Revolution of 1974 has been identified fado with the dictatorship. I struggled long against this misunderstanding. In the NINETEENTH century, the fado was a song of protest, trade unionists, village, song, strong, intense. With the dictatorship, dulcificó and sang the love and the heartbreak. When we began our journey of freedom, to break that bad reputation I recorded in 1977 by A man in Freedom poems by Ary dos Santos”.
Do Carmo has never avoided identifying themselves politically. Still signing manifestos of support to leaders and leftists. “I am not of any party. If an artist plays for, I will not say that we lack freedom, but that is conditional. There is No democracy without parties, the respect, but the time I have been teaching that in every corner there any good thing. Now Portugal enjoys a rare privilege, a president and prime minister who are not corrupt, and that in the days running is extraordinary. In 1974 we had a 36% illiteracy; today there is free education. There are problems, but the advances are great.”
In casa Do Carmo puts a lot of music “without vocals”. The protagonist of 21 albums in the studio, seven, live and many other compilations, I was horrified to hear. “I am not a perfectionist, but demanding, yes. In the study, you face the idea of perfection, you make an effort, you repeat and you repeat until you give the OK, you go back the following week and what you hear will seem unbearable. In the scenario does not pass; with the mistakes and everything, and I love it. Hence the heart commands and the feeling of life.”
The interpreter of Lisbon, female e moça speaks of the pending tasks for the new generations of fadistas: “There is a lot of talent, but needs to do something that is not tradition among the people of the fado. You need culture, to read and to take an interest without fear by the policy. Know when to talk politics, and know how to do it. Do not be afraid of losing to the public. There is a phrase of a showman american: ‘The secret to success I don’t know, but for the failure yes, I know, and is wanting to please everyone”.
In your table there is a pile of papers with lyrics. Peeks Ne me quitte pas, by Jacques Brel, “the best”, and a book of poetry of Herbert Helder: “I would like to sing, because no one has done it yet”. But with these plans it collides his desire to retire. “Singing is a privilege, although there is to stop. There are to know thank. I agree with Mastroianni when she was asked about her profession: ‘they pay Me, they take care of me and, from time to time, they give me awards. What more do you want?’. It is the finitude and the I recognize because I’ve seen it up close on three occasions. Let’s say that I’m ready.”
Carlos do Carmo has canceled several concerts to concentrate on the last two Lisbon. “In December I will fulfill 80 years of age, 57 of them have spent singing. It is a long time; I’m surprised that people don’t be tired”.