'To play and sing Fado, you must have had a very sad life'

Settle in for a classy night out at Blue Frog, where Goan fadista Sonia Shirsat will introduce you to the musical genre Fado that traces its origins to Portugal. And don't worry, the poignant melody is bound to lift your spirits

She introduces the song Ave Maria Fadista in a soft, wispy voice. The listeners are informed, "To play and sing Fado, you must have had a very sad life." Then, she delves straight into the depths of the song, with only the sound of the acoustic guitar and beats of a tabla for company.

31-year-old Sonia Shirsat is steadily building an international repute as
a fadista

It does not matter that you don't understand a word of the Portuguese song that Sonia Shirsat is singing. Her deep, sonorous voice is enough to bring on a smile of appreciation. The 31-year-old singer is one of the few fadistas in the country, who sing Fado, a musical form characterised by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor. Tonight, she shares the Blue Frog stage with the Indo-Jazz MAKK Quartet for a special performance. Excerpts from an interview.

You've always been interested in singing and have won numerous awards for your talent. Yet, you took to singing the Fado while juggling a job as a lecturer of Law in Goa. What made you make the switch?
I guess I was born to sing Fado but I met my destiny just a few years ago. Singing has always been a passion irrespective of the language or style while education was very important to my family and me. So, I ended up doing my Bachelors in Commerce, Bachelors in Law and finished with a Masters in Law. I started singing professionally in 2002, while I was doing my graduation in Law.

For those, who are unfamiliar with Fado as a musical genre, how would you introduce us to it?
The word Fado means destiny or fate. The musical genre of Fado, is a semi-classical style, and is characterised by a lot of pain, longing, and deep emotions. Fado is a style that emphasises a lot on the voice, with the sound of guitars.

Apart from Goa, you have performed in Lisbon, Macau, the Middle East and various international destinations. Which concert counts among your most unforgettable moments?
Lisbon 2008: Mundo Fado is an experience that remains etched in my memory. It was my debut concert in the land of Fado and the concert was sold out a day in advance. The audience was a beautiful mix of Portuguese and Goans settled there. I performed Fado with traditional instruments, as well as with the Indian Sitar.

Your rendition of Ave Maria Fadista too has the tabla player Mayuresh Vasta accompanying you. Is that your own experiment with Fado? What made you consider merging Indian classical instruments with
a quintessentially West-ern genre?

I have been experimenting with Fado and a lot of Indian Instruments like the Sitar, Tabla, Flute, Ghumat, Dhol, etc. My belief is that the Fado is a style that exists all over the world under different names, in different languages. For me, Fado is an emotion. If an Indian can sing Fado, why can't we merge it with the sound of Indian instruments?

So, what should we expect at tonight's performance?
The themes of Fado revolve around the ocean, voyages, broken hearts, and so on. I will be performing traditional Fado, to give the audience an insight into the world of Fado. There will also be a session of contemporary Fado, which is livelier. The Fado will be accompanied by the Mandolin and Viola do Fado.

On: Tonight
Time: 9.30 pm to 11.30 pm
At: Blue Frog, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel.
Call: 61586158
Entry: Rs 300 (after 9 pm)

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