(Review) Gisela João’s Fado is poetry of the heart

Gisela Joáo is the one of the rising stars of Portuguese Fado. Her music has a traditional feeling, but is contemporary at the same time.

Gisela Joáo’s New York Debut

Gisela Joáo makes her New York City debut at Schimmel Center in the Financial District for the NY Fado Festival Saturday, February 25, 2017 at 7:30pm.

There will be a lobby exhibition about Fado produced by the Museo do Fado in Lisbon.

The evening starts at 6pm with a conversation about the history of Fado with scholar Lila Ellen Gray.

The show opens at 7:30pm with a session of Fado instrumentals by Gisela’s ensemble Ricardo Parreira on 12-string Portuguese guitar, Nelson Aleixo on classical guitar, and Francisco Gaspar on acoustic bass.

Gisela comes on at 8pm.

Gisela Joáo Live Review

Gisela is a tiny woman with a big voice who builds a great rapport with an audience, even in English. She is both young and mature at the same time. Gisela is so comfortable on stage that she makes you feel like you are a kid hanging out at her house for a sleepover.

She is a famous Fadista now, but Gisela didn’t come from the Fado world. That was for grandparents. Like most everyone of her generation, Gisela grew up on pop music. But now having come into the Fado world, she has brought the young generation with her. This is one of the things that makes Gisela a very important Fado artist.

I always thought Fado was only the sad longing of “Saudade,” but discovered something else in Gisela. Surely Fado is filled with the sorrows of leaving your family for the sea, but it also knows the joy of returning home to port. It’s in the sailor’s jigs that Gisela dances when she sings a happy Fado.

I loved the song about the alien who landed his UFO on Gisela’s lawn. She invited him in for tea and conversation. After a few sips of Portuguese wine, the happy alien flew zig-zagging home.

Gisela’s excellent trio with its Portuguese guitar sounds Baroque, almost Greek. It calls from places farther east beyond the Mediterranean. After all this is the music of world travelers. The Portuguese opened the Age of Exploration by exploring the African and Indian coast all the way to China.

Ximena says, “Fado stirs the memories of your heart.” Gisela says Fado is street poetry.

Gisela João’s most poetic gift is to make music of the heart sound fresh and new. She is making a whole new generation of memories.

PS: Thank you Schimmel Center for bringing great Latin artists back downtown.

About Gisela João

Gisela’s first self-titled album (2013) hit #1 on the Portuguese charts and earned “Best New Artist” at Portugal’s Prémio Amália Awards.

João Miguel Tavares of Time Out said, “Since Amália Rodrigues – and I am weighing my words carefully – no fado singer has had the emotional range displayed by Gisela João on her impressive debut album.” Amália Rodrigues is the historic Queen of Fado, so that is quite a recommendation.

Gisela released Nua (Nude) in 2016.

To learn more about the artist, visit www.giselajoao.com


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