National day of mourning declared as Portugal’s fado legend Carlos do Carmo dies in hospital

The Portuguese government has declared a national day of mourning for Monday after fado legend Carlos do Carmo died this morning in hospital after suffering an aortic aneurysm.

Within hours of his death being made public, tributes were pouring in from all corners of the world – even from the ‘other side’.

The José Saramago Foundation posted a declaration by the long-deceased Nobel Literature prize-winner, in which Saramago highlighted Carlos do Carmo’s ‘moral elegance’.

Ballet director Pedro Penim tweeted the ‘bad start to the year’ with the death of “the man with the velvet voice”, while art historian David Santos took to social media to write simply “thank you Carlos”.

“A very sad start to the year”, came other messages: “Carlos do Carmo 1939-2021: a man forever in the world”.

Economist and former Left Bloc leader Francisco Louçã posted: “A great musician and straight up man”, while the international musical press recalled “one of the most loved Portuguese artists, known as ‘Sinatra’ of the soulful, melancholic music of fado”.

Agence France Presse called Carlos do Carmo “the voice of Lisbon”, while Efe news agency in Spain described him as the ‘masculine voice of Fado’

British writer David Bret tweeted: RIP Carlos do Carmo, arguably Portugal’s greatest ever male singer. Just hours into the New Year, and it’s happening already. Please God, stop taking the good ones”.

The Portuguese Navy followed with: “Lisbon, awoke today a little sadder. From the Tejo, forever, Carlos do Carmo”.

One after the other, people remembered the talented, elegant icon who only left the professional stage a little over a year ago.

Born in Lisbon, the son of fado singer Lucília do Carmo and her fado bookshop owner husband Alfredo Almeida, Carlos had music embedded in his DNA. But he didn’t ‘begin’ his musical life until the early 60s.

As a very young man his parents advised him to leave Lisbon and study languages and hotel management in Switzerland. The death of his father in 1962 saw him return to Lisbon to help his mother run the family’s Fado house, the Faia – and from then on, the die was cast.

His career thrived in the 70s when he released several of his most well-known songs. At a very complicated political time for the country, he collaborated with a number of opponents of the Estado Novo regime.

As the year’s went by and fado ‘started to lose exposure on the radio and television, Carlos do Carmo was ‘an exception to this trend’. He went on to represent Portugal in the 1976 Eurovision Song Contest (coming 12th) while nationally his popularity grew and grew.

He won a Latin Grammy in 2014, performed in some of the best venues of the world – including the Albert Hall in London – and was quite simply a piece of Portuguese cultural history.

Universal Music has announced the release of his last album “E ainda?” (and still?) for later this year.

Prime minister António Costa’s office issued a note to say “it is with extreme consternation and profound sadness that the government learnt today of the death of Carlos do Carmo, and decided to declare a Day of National Mourning to take place on Monday, January 4, 2021”.

The government has also proposed that President Marcelo attribute a posthumous Order of Liberty “for the decisive role that Carlos do Carmo had in the renewal of fado”.

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