18 November, 2019

Farewell, dear Argentina!


It is with deep regret that the Fado Museum receives the news of the death of our dear Argentina Santos, a fado singer to whom, in 2010, the Museum dedicated the exhibition "I don't know if Canto se Rezo". The wake will be today, starting at 5 pm, in the Basilica da Estrela. Tomorrow, at 3 pm, there is a funeral mass, reserved for the family.


Unlike other renowned women singers who, very young, already sang Fado in public, Argentina Santos only started her artistic career after the opening of that restaurant, where she went to work as a cook, with 24 years old. After leaving the kitchen, Argentina Santos walked round the tables, always asked to sing a Fado. Her answer became a legend: “I’m here to cook for my costumers”.

At “Parreirinha de Alfama”, Argentina Santos sang with many fado singers who marked the History of Fado in Portugal: Berta Cardoso, Lucília do Carmo, Alfredo Marceneiro, Celeste Rodrigues, Mariana Silva, Natércia da Conceição, Natália Bizarro, Helena Tavares, Maria da Fé, Leonor Santos, Beatriz da Conceição, Fernanda Maria – who started her career at “Parreirinha de Alfama” –, Flora Pereira, Júlio Peres, among many others.

Thanks to the authenticity of her interpretations and to a very personal style, she immediately imposed herself as one of the most gifted and promising Fado singers of her time, becoming since then, for the experts and melomaniacs of Fado, a trustworthy interpreter of the Song, in the line of women singers of the past. The Fado songs “As Duas Santas” (The two Holy Women) and “Juras” (Swears) were, among others, great successes of this artist who released her first record in 1960.

The non recording and the refuse to make shows led her to the interruption of a more than promising career. A lot was said over this attitude. About that period of her life, says the singer: “By that time I had a mate who didn’t like to see me singing in public. Two years after his death I married again and I had the same problem. Now that I’m free, I seize the invitations addressed to me. The opposite of before, when I had to refuse them. I’m very well received abroad and that gives me great pleasure, for what I really like is to sing. To sing, how Maria da Fé says, ‘till my voice hurts’ (lyrics of a Fado song)”.

Although mostly confined to her performances at “Parreirinha de Alfama” and one or other presentation in public or private shows, that didn’t stop Argentina Santos to become known and appreciated as a genuine woman singer, perhaps one of the most representative ones of the traditional school of Fado.

Currently, she is the most requested Portuguese fado singer, dignifying and divulging Fado throughout the world, our most representative Song, in a unique and sublime way, fairly acclaimed as the last woman singer of Fado of Lisbon’s Song old tradition.

Venezuela, Curaçao, Brazil, France (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999), Konzerthaus in Vienna - Ostrich, Queen Elisabeth Hall in London - England, La Cité de La Musique in Paris - France, Cathedral of Marseille - France, Dufe Paris - Greece, Holland, Scotland, the Italian tour in Perugia, Modena and Torino, are some of the international concerts of this pure and genuine artist. In Portugal she performed at Coliseu dos Recreios, Teatro da Trindade, Teatro Eunice Muñoz, Teatro Roma (with Simone de Oliveira), at the re-opening of Teatro Tivoli and at Centro Cultural de Belém.

In 2004, she was rendered homage with a career concert, during the event “Festa do Fado”, in Lisbon.

She sang regularly at her Casa de Fados and, in addition to her individual concerts, she also participated in Ricardo Pais' project “Cabelo Branco é Saudade”. This was a show directed by Ricardo Pais and premiered at the Teatro de São João, in Porto, in July 2005, where, in addition to Argentina Santos, the fado singers Celeste Rodrigues, Alcindo de Carvalho and Ricardo Ribeiro participated.

The Amália Rodrigues Foundation, in its first awarding of prizes, in 2005, distinguished Argentina Santos with a Career Award.

In 2013, Argentina Santos was decorated by the President of the Republic, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, with the Ordem do Infante D. Henrique.