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José Porfírio

(M. 14 August, 1940)

José Porfírio was born in 1909 and began his "fado living", according to his own words in an interview to "Trovas de Portugal" (August 1933), influenced by his brother, Ricardo Porfírio, Filipe Pinto and João Pereira da Silva, all of them friends since childhood and singers at the Lisbon district of Graça.

He had two professions, i.e. driver and worker in the shoemaking industry.

He belonged to the Grémio Literário Amadores do Fado, of which his brother was a founding member, and became highly popular at the venue.

As an amateur singer he performed at Centro Fernão Boto Machado and Centro Republicano Magalhães Lima, in innumerable charity and tribute feasts, also singing at “Boémia” and “Rosa Branca” beer houses.

He was a devoted admirer of the fado alexandrino genre. "At at party thrown by a group of friends of my brother at Centro Magalhães Lima, as he was accidentally absent in Africa, I felt extremely moved. My singing was so moved and passionate, because I missed my brother so much, that I do not know if I ever sung better again." (cf. Trovas de Portugal, 26 August 1933)

Asked about the decadence of fado, he answered: "Fado is not decadent. Fado singers decay for lack of guidance. Fado singers do not help each other, they run over one another."

He made his professional debut in 1929 at fado house “Ferro de Engomar”. He also performed at “Retiro da Severa”, “Solar da Alegria” and Coliseu dos Recreios, at “Café Ginásio”, “Café Mondego” and “Café Luso” and virtually all other fado houses, popular associations and theatres in Lisbon (except Teatro São Carlos and Nacional).

He recorded great hits like "Consagração do Fado" and "Fado Vitória".

He also sang at the house of the Conde de Proença, at the homes of several noble families in Vila Franca de Xira and also at Coliseu dos Recreios, on occasion of the artistic feast of actor Rui Metelo.

José Porfírio died in August 1940 at the Hospital São José, in Lisbon, where he had been admitted for a surgery. He was 31 years-old and belonged to the private cast of “Retiro da Severa”. The fado house closed its doors on the day of his death, in mourning. He was buried at Cemitério Oriental and many fado singers attended his funeral, bringing him a crown of nostalgia.(cf. “Canção do Sul”, 16 August 1940).



“Trovas de Portugal”, 26 August 1933;

Machado, A. Victor (1937) “Ídolos do Fado”, Lisboa, Tipografia Gonçalves;

“Canção do Sul”, 26 August 1940.





José Porfírio