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.
is a nice biography of José on the Museu do Fado
(Lisboa) website at:
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,
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 Daniel 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 performance 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.