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The Project

Trio Fado

'Milho Verde' ('Green Corn') is a folk song of unknown authorship from Beira Baixa, in the eastern region of Portugal, bordering Spain. Traditionally it was sung by workers of the 'maize harvest' - both in the field and during the peeling process, spadix sorting and corn husking - whereby the whole neighborhood would sit together, sharing the workload, while the courtier provided the food and wine. The lyrics describe the exuberant atmosphere during this co-operative work, because the harvest was, at the same time, a 'game' between men and women: If someone found a red corn during peeling, they were allowed to ask for a kiss - from whomever they desired.

Trio Fado "Milho Verde"


With its simple rhythm, Milho Verde could be described as a work song and for a long time it was exclusively transmitted orally. It is, up to the present day, a common folk song that has been interpreted by many Portuguese singers such as José "Zeca" Alfonso, a political musician who's music is closely associated with the 'Carnation Revolution', which eventually toppled the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar in 1974.


Trio Fado "Mãe preta"

'Milho Verde' ('Green Corn')

Green corn, green corn
Green corn on the cob
In the shadow of the green corn
I caressed a girl

Green corn, green corn
Green corn, small grains
In the shadow of the green corn
I embraced a young man

'Mae Preta' ('Black Mother')

Wrinkled skin, white frizzy hair
She rocked the cradle
Of her Lord's son

That's what the black mother did
Raising all the white ones with joy and love
Whilst her child was being beaten in the Sansala*
The black mother wiped a tear from her face...

Black Mother, Black Mother
while her child felt the crack of the whip
The black mother rocked her Lord's son               

* Slave village