The melancholy tones of Portugal's blues-like music, fado, has been brought up to contemporary standards by vocalist Paulo Braganca.
While fado remains the foundation of his songs, Braganca has forsaken the traditional sounds in favor of flamenco rhythms, hip hop backbeats and elements of Brazilian pop music. As he explained during a 1996 interview, "when things aren't happy, we have to love our sadness -- that's what fado is to me". Born to Portuguese parents in colonial Angola, Braganca was exposed to fado from an early age. His father was an amateur singer and listened to old fado records. Soon after returning with his parents to Portugal, at the age of nine, Braganca began singing in the streets and fado bars of Lisbon's Bairro Alto section. In 1988, Braganca performed at a fado night sponsored by the Lisbon Academic Association. The experience inspired him to pursue music as a career. Recording his debut single in 1991, Braganca was overheard by David Byrne who signed him to his Luaka Bop label. Braganca's debut album, "Amai", released in 1996, included traditional and original fado songs, sung in Portuguese, and a cover of Nick Cave's tune, "Sorrow's Child", sung in English. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi