Fado is the sad, slow music of Portugal, whose achingly beautiful songs overflow with the anguish of love, supplication and desire. Like American blues, fado holds out the promise of transcending love’s pain, and like flamenco ballads, it offers a joyousness that eases the suffering. The most recent star of fado, Katia Guerreiro, comes to Japan next week.

The best fado singers, like the famed Amalia Rodrigues, know how to sing to the soul, engaging despair with realism and strength. Guerreiro clearly takes her cues from Rodrigues, known as the “voice of Portugal.” Rodrigues was so popular that after her death in 1999, the Portuguese president declared three days of national mourning.

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