Women’s Day: Goan fadista Sonia glitters on ‘Fado’

Panaji, March 8 (IANS) Be it in a small intimate room at Madragoa, Home of Fado and Mando, in the capital city Panaji, or the classy glittering Cidade de Goa’s Portuguese restaurant Alfama – Noite de Fado, when Sonia Shirsat sings ‘Fado’ the audience is mesmerised and falls in love with the genre.

At Hotel Cidade de Goa’s Alfama – Noite de Fado, the only regular commercial Fado event has been running since 2007, once a month.

The melancholic and soulful expression of ‘Fado’, conveying the essence of love, God, mother, pain, and sufferings are sensitively taken care of by musicians (guitarists) like Franz Schubert Cotta, Orlando de Noronha, Carlos Menezes, Sherwyn Correia or Dr. Allan Abreo

“I have two or more guitarists when I perform on the stage. Playing the Portuguese guitar is either Franz Schubert Cotta or Orlando Noronha and classic guitar is Carlos Menezes or Sherwyn Correia or Allan Abreo. We take care to present it in its purest form and to take listeners into a state of longing and nostalgia.”

The daughter of the late Shashikant Shirsat and late Maria Alice Pinho e Shirsat, Sonia was exposed to music and Fado by her mother, who corrected her accent. Later she fell in love with ‘Fado’.

“Fado is a very different art form, it is not like singing any other song. One gets so deep into it the poem and emotions of the song… At times when I am performing physically I am there, but my soul is somewhere else. So it’s a different experience altogether,” Sonia Shirsat told IANS.

Sonia, Fadista of Goa, says that fado must have come from Portugal to the coastal state through travellers.

Fado was born in Lisbon around the 1830s or 40s, and arrived in Goa in the 1890s, or maybe even earlier, while it was still a Portuguese colony.

“I assume by different ways, there is no documentation or record, however, people who went to Portugal to study medicine and law, when they came back they brought it and people from Portugal who came here they too brought it. There were gramophone records and Fado was played also on radio,” Shirsat said.

“I would say Fado has made me a calmer person, with wider understanding and a better person because Fado has deep meaning lyrics. When we go into the lyrics, we can see how the lyricist must have gone through his life or has suffered pain. Since I started to understand and sing fado my world has become wider. My way of looking at life has changed through fado,” she said.

“I have been regularly singing Fado once a month at Hotel Cidade Goa for the last seventeen years and that’s on the first Friday of every month and there is another place in Panaji Madragoa, House of Fado and Mando,” she said.

Having performed across India and in 19 countries globally, some being Luxembourg, Canada, Singapore, Macau, Portugal, Paris, Sonia is on a mission to revive and popularise fado. Hence she has also started to spread awareness and teach her students.

Sonia says that she was never drawn to Fado, her only exposure to it was through her mother, who sang the Fado at home as a hobby.

“I never took vocal training as far as Fado is concerned, because technically or traditionally in Portugal itself there is no way you can go somewhere to learn Fado because they believe that one is born as a Fado singer. There is no course, grade exam, or guru you can go to. But over time you can practice and sing the Fado,,” Sonia opines.

Sonia said that she learned to master the pronunciation of Fado. “It was my goal. My mother used to correct me and so it was easy when I went to Portugal with the correct pronunciation,” she said, adding she is guiding around 300 students to preserve the Fado.

While comparing the lyrics of Fado with Ghazals, Sonia says that they are deep and meaningful poems. “Like Ghazals, sometimes it has references of love, God, mother, place they love, love from the past, pain and suffering,” she said.

Having no formal training in music, Sonia’s rise to being the noted fadista in India, has brought a proud moment for the culture of Goa.

In 2003, during the Portuguese guitar workshop in Panjim Sonia sang a fFdo with hesitation but at the end of it she was told that her voice was best suited for it. This gave her the confidence to carve a niche in Fado.

“When I perform, the response is always very nice. Because the audience appreciates the fact that I am from India and not from the Fado world. I am into that art form, which was originally not ours,” Sonia Shirsat, who grew up in temple town Ponda,in South Goa, said.



Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.