Nadia Rebelo, hailing from Goa, sings in styles ranging from pop to jazz. She took a liking for the Portuguese Fado and won a lot of prizes in competitions such as Vem Cantar (Portuguese Song Competition) and the Concurso do Fado (Fado Competition). The drive and passion for music in her young blood drew us to write about her.
At a very young age of ten years, Nadia’s father encouraged her to take up Fado singing and got her to participate in competitions. But within a year, at the age of eleven, she lost her father. Since then, her mother has strived to provide Nadia with the support of both parents. Fado means fate or destiny. Nadia’s Fado love is evident when she told us why she took to singing it.
“Fado, I believe, is a type of song that lets us empathize with the singer and takes us back in time. It is reminiscent of the past and lets us understand how life was, in those days. The pain and happiness experienced by the people in those days are expressed through a poem with melodies giving emphasis to the story. That is why I find Fado to be one of the most beautiful types of singing.”
Nadia’s talent stems from her musically inclined family. Her father James Rebelo was a professional musician and a drummer, and her mother Vera is a dancer. So there has always been music played at her house. What stirred her towards Fado is, in her own words, “to sing the Fado you need to feel the Fado. To sing with passion you need to know what you sing.” She also sings in other styles like Bollywood music, and in different languages such as Hindi and Konkani.
She is a fond listener of Whitney Huston from the western segment, and Amalia Rodrigues, a Portuguese Fadista. Explaining why she likes their music especially, she said, “They have passion when they sing. The way they feel the song and make their listeners feel the same passion as they made me want to be able to do that too. I try and bring out the feeling of each song I sing so that my listeners can feel it too.”
A fondness that began at the age of ten matured by the age of 15 years is when she completely fell in love with Fado. What made Nadia take Fado as a career? Nadia replied, “When I started singing a lot of people came up to me and said that my voice is meant for Fado. I feel I am able to do justice to Fado when I sing.” She went on to obtain a master’s degree in Portuguese and also travelled to Portugal to learn it directly from its source, as she loves the language.
What is amazing is that Nadia has received no formal training in Fado till date; she has learnt and practised on her own. When asked about the difficulties she faced in taking up the Fado style, she said, “Fado is definitely not the easiest of musical genres, so there was a lot of hard work involved. It wasn’t easy at all, especially after I lost my dad. But my mum continued to encourage me and we gained the courage to overcome the obstacles and come out stronger.”
Recollecting one episode from a few years back she continued, “One of the incidents that built me was when I didn’t qualify for the next round of the competition. It was when I realized that I needed to work harder to prove my true potential. It opened my eyes to the hard competitors I would face in the future and made me focus better on my objectives. In my opinion, every bad day has a corresponding good outcome. That’s how I choose to face the challenges in my life.”
Nadia performs at the Noite de Fado held regularly at Alfama Restaurant of Cidade de Goa Beach Resort as well as other popular places around Goa. She was invited to perform at the World Goa Day in Porto in 2014 where she got the opportunity to sing at various Casas de Fado across Portugal. Nadia has also performed along with the famed Fado singer from Portugal, Marco Rodrigues at the Monte Music Festival in 2013.
Back then at a workshop conducted by Marco Rodrigues, Nadia had the good fortune to meet him. That was when she got selected to sing at the Monte Music Festival 2013. On her recent visit to Portugal, she sang at the Casa De Amelia, where the community of Goans based in Portugal organized a concert for her. She has also sung on two radio stations and one television show namely Agra Nos.
Nadia spares no efforts to help out children practice for Fado competitions or simply encourage them to participate and give it their best shot. She hopes for more youngsters with the passion for Fado music, to take it up as a profession. “Fado has had a strong influence on the Indian audience, just as the opera. If more youngsters picked up this musical style, it would strengthen this influence and keep the culture strong.”
She looks forward to singing for films should the opportunity arise. “Music makes me happy, so for now I have made Fado my career. I am living a dream.” Nadia launched her first album titled ‘Fado Português’ in October 2015 at the hands of the Consul General of Portugal in Goa, Dr Rui Carvalho Baceira. This album was produced by Vera Rebelo and the musicians comprised of Guitarra Portuguesa, Viola de Fado and Franz Schubert Cotta on the Tambor. The album got a lot of support and appreciation. She intends to come out with more songs soon.