Monday, June 17, 2013

José "Zeca" Afonso – Cantigas do Maio (1971)

Zeca Afonso continues as one of the most beloved Portuguese singers, decades after his death in 1987. During his long career, Zeca's music was the poetic expression of his revolutionary politics. Beginning his career as a fado singer, his music benefited from years living in both Angola and Mozambique, both Portuguese colonies at the time. Zeca's politics, already forged by involvement in both student and workers movements in Portugal, evolved with his observations of brutal colonial rule in Mozambique, as well as the incipient armed rebellion led by FRELIMO.

Cantigas do Maio is considered Zeca's best record, and it arguably is his most important. The B-side begins with "Grândola, Vila Morena," the song that became the anthem of the revolutionary movement to overthrow the fascist, Salizarian dictatorship that had ruled Portugal for decades. It also was used in April 1974 to coordinate the revolutionary military forces that overthrew the fascist government, in a practically bloodless coup popularly known as the Carnation Revolution: the song was broadcast on the national radio to signal the beginning of action.

While "Grândola, Vila Morena" is iconic, all of the songs on this album are powerful and memorable. Zeca's unique voice was perfectly suited for his activist role. It's a voice desperately needed now, in every language, to contend with pan-global repressive forces.
Enjoy! Then act.


Anonymous said...

The songs of Mayo, have come in June!

Welcome Zeca, but it is necessary to coordinate the action, even the voice always result beautiful.
Thank you.

Rhythm Connection said...

Alas, N, I was not able en Mayo. Coordinated action would be great, and indeed, necessary. This beautiful, essential voice will grace this page again.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this music! Sounds very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy the chanson-like voice: light, agile, with a flicker-vibrato, and excellent enunciation (though I couldn't tell you one word from another in Portuguese if you paid me to do so). That's aside from the music, which is varied and powerful, always expressive.

Thanks for sharing it. And keep in mind: persistence and holding onto humanity are the best weapons.

Apurva Bahadur said...

A belated thanks for sharing this gem. Wonderful music. Apurva from Pune, India.

Anonymous said...

A belated thanks from me as well. I had never heard of "Zeca" before, and now I'm pretty much hooked. Many thanks for your generosity.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this album! I had never heard of Zeca Afonso before and now I am hooked. I agree with you that you can definitely hear the African influence. Any more Zeca you could post would be most welcome.