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André Maia - the name of Fado in Athens

11 March 2014 / 16:03:42  GRReporter
10503 reads

Fátima Taboada López


Fado is more than a traditional music genre in Portugal. It is the expression of the soul and feelings and not every singer can do this. For André Maia, a perfect result is the only thing that matters. Three and a half years ago, he formed the André Maia Band in Athens, mixing Portuguese music and Greek instruments. The result was a great success among the Greek audience and that makes him feel very comfortable here. As a Portuguese, he feels the need to promote his country and culture. He is pleased to talk to GRReporter and share with us his views on life and music as well as on the political and economic situation in southern Europe.

Why did you come to Athens?

The first time I came to Greece was in 1987, when I finished my Acting Course in Lisbon. It was an exchange award for students and we came to Athens for 28 days. However, it was August and the museums and music schools were closed. I thought that this award was a waste of money on the part of the European Union because we did not really take advantage of it since everything was closed and we were not able to visit anything. Despite that, I had the opportunity to meet many Greek artists. In Portugal, it is very difficult to talk with artists and put your ideas to them, as there are always barriers.

The following year I came here again with my brothers. We travelled around and I met my love at that time. Nineteen years later, I decided to come to Athens because I no longer had a job in Portugal. I came through the Instituto Cervantes because I had some friends there and I met some Latin American people who offered me work at Athens International Radio, which was created for the Olympic Games. Since then I have hosted a programme in Portuguese every evening from 6 pm to 7 pm in order to make popular Lusophone poetry and music. I love radio, I worked as an actor in radio dramas in Portugal and in Greece, and many people still listen to them regularly.

Has it been easy for you to find a place for your music in Greece? Why did you decide to sing Fado?

People in Greece are very receptive. If you bring new things, they will love it. I sing tango, Fado and French music. I had never sung Fado before coming here, my style was opera. My family is leftist and during the dictatorship, Fado was used by the Government to manipulate citizens; so after the Carnation Revolution leftist people did not listen to Fado. But today, 30 years later, there is a new generation of young Fado singers.

When I came to live here, I realized that Greeks do not know anything about Portugal. They think that we speak Spanish and they do not know that Portuguese is the fifth most spoken language in the world. They do not know that it is also spoken in Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Goa (India), etc. In my opinion, the Embassy of Portugal here in Athens is supposed to promote and popularize Portuguese culture. For instance, there is no Instituto Camões in Greece.

That is why I decided to do something related to my country and I created a band of Fado with Greek musicians and traditional Greek instruments three and a half years ago. That was something totally new and different here. I am not just a singer, I am an actor-singer so I always try to warm up the environment. I try to sing at an emotional level rather than at a logical level and people like that.

How did you form your band?

I was working in a tango band at that time and I met two musicians from another band. I asked them if they would like to form a Fado group with me and they agreed. They brought two other musicians and the five of us started the project three and a half years ago. Our first concert was in the garden of MELMOKE Museum, which had room for 150 seats but 270 people came to see our performance, and it was amazing. It was a new project and people liked that.

Then I created a tango band (Oblivión) and my new project is French music with my band “Paris qui chante”. There are different musicians in each band and it is difficult to work together because they were taught to play instruments just mechanically, not with their hearts. I want to make the songs dramatic, I want them to take part in the show, and when I say this, they get mad. They think Fado is like traditional Greek music but it is not. Fado is an Urban Song, it comes from the soul, it is similar to Jazz Music. They attended music schools but they had not worked with singers, so it is very difficult for them to understand what I want. I want them to feel the music and not to be as rational as they are.

What do you want to give people through you music?

Tags: FadoAndre MaiaBandMusic
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