Joel Pina(17 February, 1920)
“Fado is the music that moves me the most”, Joel Pina tells us in the documentary “Fado” (Sofia de Portugal Aurélio Vasques, 2012) and it will not be by chance that in his musical journey we found more than six decades of fado.
João Manuel Pina was born in Rosmaninhal, a village in the municipality of Idanha-a-Nova, on February 17, 1920. He adopted the stage name of Joel Pina and the interpretation of the bass guitar for his career as a professional musician.
Joel Pina's name is inseparable from the history of fado, either because of the fundamental contribution he made to the integration of the bass viola in the set of accompaniment instruments for fado, or because of the interpretative quality that distinguishes him in the musical universe, since he became professional in 1949 until today.
Through radio broadcasts, he had his first contacts with Fado as a child and, at the age of 8, started playing, when his father, on a trip to Lisbon, bought him a mandolin. The Spanish guitar and classical guitar followed. His learning was self-taught and through the observation of others, as Baptista Bastos himself described: “in my land one played a lot and then I saw others and perhaps for the sake of intuition I immediately started to play the Spanish guitar and to move the classical guitar too. ” (Bastos: 256).
In 1938 he moved his residence to Lisbon and, as a fado lover, he regularly frequented Café Luso. In that house, he met Martinho de Assunção who, in 1949, invited him to join the Typical Guitar Quartet of Martinho d’Assunção. This group also included Francisco Carvalhinho and Fernando Couto. It is in this group that Joel Pina begins to dedicate himself to the bass guitar and, in this moment, he becomes professional as a musician.
In the following year he joined the cast of Adega Machado, with Francisco Carvalhinho, on the Portuguese guitar, and Armando Machado, on the Spanish one. In this environment Joel Pina begins to build the presence of the bass guitar in the instrumental accompaniment of Fado, which until that time was not usual. He will remain in the cast of this house for 10 years.
In parallel, Joel Pina worked as a civil servant at the Economic Inspection, starting this activity in 1961 and continuing until he retired.
During his professional career, he was one of the founders of the Guitar Ensemble with Raul Nery, Fontes Rocha and Júlio Gomes. This quartet had an extraordinary success and was a milestone in the musical interpretation of the fado universe. The ensemble came at the initiative of Eduardo Loureiro, head of the music department of Emissora Nacional, who invited Raul Nery to form a ensemble, with the intention of presenting a guitar program on the radio every two weeks. In 1959 regular emissions started and the program lasted for 12 years.
Raul Nery's Guitar Ensemble “established a larger instrumental set for the accompaniment of fado and for the execution of the instrumental repertoire related to that genre, also contributing to the formulation of the musical roles of the first and second guitars, as well as the bass guitar.” (Castelo-Branco: 127). In addition to radio broadcasts and the recording of countless albums, the ensemble became popular, also with the most charismatic fado performers, namely Maria Teresa de Noronha or Amália Rodrigues, among many others.
From 1966 on, Joel Pina began to regularly accompany Amália Rodrigues, an activity that they continued for three decades until the end of the fado singer's career. With her, he would travel the stages from all over the world, in countless shows and tours that pass, for example, through Canada, the United States and Brazil (several times), Chile, Argentina, Mexico, England, France, Italy (several times), Russia, five times to Japan, Australia, South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Macau, South Korea.
Joel Pina's vast career makes the task of enumerating the fadistas with whom he played and continues to accompany, almost impossible. In addition to the aforementioned Amália Rodrigues and Maria Teresa de Noronha, he is also present in the recording of albums and shows by fadistas such as Carlos do Carmo, Carlos Zel, João Braga, Fernando Farinha, Nuno da Câmara Pereira, João Ferreira-Rosa, Teresa Silva Carvalho, Fernanda Maria, Celeste Rodrigues, Carlos Ramos, Lenita Gentil, Rodrigo and, more recently, Cristina Branco, Joana Amendoeira or Ricardo Ribeiro.
His career is recognized, Joel Pina was awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit in May 1992 by the Portuguese State, in 2005, at the Amália Rodrigues Prize Gala, received the Prize for Best Bass Guitar in Fado and in 2006, at Grande Noite do Fado, the “Prémio Carreira” (Instrumentalists). The elements of Raul Nery's Guitar Ensemble were honored, in 1999, at the Fado Museum, and recognized with the Gold Medal of Lisbon, in 2010.
After more than six decades of fado, Joel Pina continues to “accompany, give“ ground ”, give the base to whoever is singing” (Joel Pina, 2006) and there is no doubt about the significant role he developed for the bass guitar was, as it is today, an integral part of the instrumental basis of the musical universe of fado.
“Fado” (2012), documentary by Sofia de Portugal and Aurélio Vasques;
Baptista-Bastos, (1999), "Fado Falado", Col. "Um Século de Fado", Lisboa, Ediclube;
Castelo-Branco, Salwa El-Shawan (1994), “Vozes e Guitarras na Prática Interpretativa do Fado”, in Fado: Vozes e Sombras, Lisboa: Museu Nacional de Etnologia;
Museu do Fado – Interview made on September 21st, 2006.