We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
In America, we have the blues. In Cape Verde, there’s the morna. And from the lips of 30-something Portuguese singer Misia, we hear fado. Fado— which translates into “fate” and was born in the bars and brothels of 19th-century Portugal—is the broken-hearted’s mournful, melodic lament. Fado expresses lost love, loneliness, and unadorned torment; to sing it with any credibility, one needs to have graduated magna cum laude from the school of hard knocks. Misia seems to qualify. Her gravitation toward fado began when she, then only 20, and her mother moved to Catalonia, Spain. There, Misia felt a sense of longing; she missed her Portuguese home. To maintain a connection with her homeland, she began to sing fado. And rather than try to limit herself to the legacy of famous fado singer Amalia Rodrigues, Misia strives to add her own contemporary flair. Wailing bittersweet over minor keys in hushed, lilting tones, she still uses traditional acoustic instruments like guitar, violin, and bass, but she’s changed the music by soliciting lyrics from writers such as Nobel Prize-winning novelist and poet Jose Saramago. To Misia, fado is about the human experience: “The songs speak to us of the main feelings of the human soul,” she says, “loneliness, happiness, life, death, jealousy, everything.” At 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $20-$25. (301) 808-6900. (Ayesha Morris)