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by Eden Debebe

Toronto and Mississauga are the latest cities to join an international art project being painted around the world in memory of Fado singer and Portuguese actress Amália Rodrigues.

The international project is helmed by Herman Alves of Hermedia Publishing. A Montreal-based businessman, Alves describes himself as someone passionate for the arts looking to share Portuguese culture with the world, starting with the iconic fadista Amália Rodrigues. Alves said the latest mural instillation, painted in Toronto’s Little Portugal, follows previous paintings in Porto-de-Mos, Portugal and Montreal.

According to a 1999 New York Times obituary of Rodrigues, fado “is a passionate, volatile, haunted style that originated in the cafes and taverns of Lisbon. Played on the round, bright-toned 12-string Portuguese guitar, with Arabic elements that make it kin to Spanish flamenco, fado is filled with the quality called saudade in Portuguese: a mixture of sadness and nostalgia, longing and resignation. Its lyrics are bleak and fatalistic, with their suffering described in the first person.”

Over her successful career, Amália was able to popularize the iconic Portuguese sound and bring it onto the international stage with performances in  France, the United States, Japan and the Soviet Union.

 

A commemorative plaque at the base of Toronto’s mural, detailing the life and achievements of Amalia Rodrigues.

 

In a press release, Alvez said, “The name of Amália continues to be extolled with the same pride and patriotism with which the Portuguese flag is raised…..I want to share with the world our artistic talents scattered throughout the Diaspora, to give them opportunities to show what they are worth, especially in this period when so many doors were closed with the arrival of Covid-19.”

Toronto’s mural is located at 1087 Dundas St. West, created by Montreal artist Matthew Cadoch in partnership with Little Portugal on Dundas BIA. For those in the city’s west end, another mural has been created at the Portuguese Cultural Center of Mississauga at 53 Queen St N.