Fast Forward: Cristina Branco

Fado, sometimes called the Portuguese blues, is a centuries-old folk style traditionally used to express saudade--nostalgic melancholy. It's an ideal vehicle for the kind of voice that makes people weep into their vodka and tonics, and Portugal's eminent fado chanteuse, Cristina Branco, 28, has such a voice.

On her recordings and in concert, her low, tremulous instrument is backed by a band consisting of a 12-string Portuguese guitar and a Spanish guitar, the traditional fado instruments, and a bass guitar. The 12-string guitarist, Custodio Castelo, is Branco's husband as well as her chief collaborator in songwriting. She presents him with a...

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