José Pracana - Portuguese Guitarrista and Fadista     (March 18, 1946 - December 26, 2016). 
This page was revised on September 1, 2021




José Pracana was born in Ponta Delgado, São Miguel Azores. From the start of his career in 1964  he was considered to be an entertaining and authentic artist of Lisbon Fado. He sang fado, he accompanied some of the best fadistas, he played with the most accomplished guitarists of his time.

There is a nice biography of José on the Museu do Fado  (Lisboa) website at: https://www.museudofado.pt/en/fado/persolanity/jose-pracana-en

There are several dozen YouTube videos of him playing and singing fados in clubs, on stage and on television, they are easy to find and fun to watch.

In addition to being a fine performer, José became a studied authority on the Fado and was involved with the production of books and recordings including such major works as the Um Século de Fados, Biografias do Fado, and Todos os Fados.

In 2019 the Fado Museum celebrated his life with a temporary exhibition.

A few memories of Jose Pracana by Ronald Fernandez (owner of Fernandez Music, Anacortes, Washington)

I met José a few times. The first was in Montreal, Canada at the apartment of Artur Gaipo sometime in the early 1970’s. He was at Gaipo’s place to have the head of his Portuguese guitarra repaired. When I arrived Artur was trying to glue the scroll back on. I had a brief encounter with him and the repair progressed. The next day Sr. Gaipo told me that Pracana was a good player and that he played with professionals such as with Jose Nunes, Fontes Rocha, and Amalía. Gaipo laughed as remembered the previous day and told me that Pracana had done his a singing impressions of such notables as Alfred Marceneiro. There are videos on YouTube of Pracana singing as Marceneiro and other fadistas.

The next time was in 1999 a few days after Amalía Rodrigues had died. Her public funeral was scheduled for October 8th and was to be televised from the cathedral as there was great public interest in her life. It happened that Luis Penedo, President of the Academia da Guitarra Portuguesa e do Fado, had invited us to dinner at a restaurant called Número Um. Typically, professional fadistas would meet there on Thursday nights. Since Amalía's funeral was to happen the next day there was a larger than normal number of people there. 
That night we were treated to incredible performances by professionals such as Carlos Zel, Manuel Cardoso de Menezes, Manuela Cavaco and one of Amalia's guitarists, Jose Pracana. Midway through the evening (which went on to 3 am) there was a short break between singers and at that point Jose Pracana who was in a corner of the room began playing a solo on his guitarra. He started softly and played the song over and over getting a little louder each time in this very quiet room. He was playing the melody to Fado Amalia-- the fado which was written for Amalia by the composer Frederico Valério and lyricist Jose Galhardo. That night was an incredible wake for the greatest fadista. It was a richly emotional night--at several points it seemed as if time stood still for everyone in the room.

In 2003 David Gouveia (fado composer and singer) invited my wife and I to an arranged night of fado at the Restaurante Giuseppi Verde in Lisbon. When we arrived we went into the back dining room which seated about 40  people.  We chatted with Jose Pracana and a few of the fadistas including Manuel Cardoso de Menezes.  Jose remembered our meeting in Montreal and asked about Artur Gaipo. We had dinner and the performance began around midnight. Through the night until after 3 am José accompanied a half dozen fadistas and performed instrumental pieces accompanied by one or 2 violas (Spanish guitars).

In particular I wish to mention the splendid Fado Lopes that José played that night. He played with great feeling and in an authentic manner. The atmosphere of the performance was classic--it was after midnight, in an intimate room with an audience of lovers of Fado.  His version was a collection of many variations of the Fado Lopes which he had collected over decades and had modified to his own taste. If you listen to many players' Fado Lopes you will find similar sections but if you compare those with José's you will discover that he added his own charming interpretation to each one.   I have linked the video of that performaance at the top of this page. It is on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnF5BYb76Ds

I plan to upload other videos from that special evening.

The reader should realize that in 2003 not every one had a video camera and the iPhone had not been invented. Luckily I carried a nice Sony video camera and recorded this special evening. My Sony video camera had a special setting for low light situation, without this setting I would not have been able to get any video. Of course, this setting made the video a bit grainy but watchable. Nevertheless, the audio was pretty good.

 I am working on a webpage about the Fado Lopes in general. It will appear this October 2021.

This page was revised on September 1, 2021