Fado music, known as Portuguese blues, is a tradition dating back centuries. At its heart is saudade, which loosely can be translated as an indefinable yearning, sung in Portuguese by an old woman clad in black and accompanied by classical guitar. Nathalie Pires is striking for her youth but already has been recognized as a notable fadista in Portugal, despite being raised in New Jersey. It's from this unlikely birthplace of fado that she talks about her passion.
Isn't the audience usually silent at fado clubs?
Yes, if you talk at a fado house in Lisbon, the owner will kick you out. But for the folk festival, I don't expect that at all. I expect people will be talking since they won't understand the lyrics, but I hope they can connect to the emotion. If even one person leaves understanding what fado is, it's worth it.
Fado songs are about all kinds of emotions. About Portugal, about young girls selling fruit in the street, about getting older and getting your heart broken. Fado is for every emotion ever felt. The language barrier is my challenge, but I explain what I'm singing about to give as much background as I can before each song.
Who should come hear you sing?
People looking for an emotional thrill. People who want to get in touch with their soul and express emotion. Fado is very simple, just me in black clothing and three guitarists. Leave everything at home and forget your troubles. Let me move you.
Saturday: 2-2:45 p.m., Altria Stage; 4-5 p.m., Singing Traditions from Around the World, MWV Stage; 6:15-7, MWV Stage.
Sunday: 2:30-3:15 p.m., Union First Market Bank/University of Richmond Stage.