Guitarradas de Fado
music from the soul of portugal


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Helder Carvalheira

Helder Carvalheira has been playing music since age 4, when he taught himself to play the accordion to entertain family friends.  At age 9 he started playing the trombone, and by age 11 he played jazz trombone in big band competitions, garnering several competitive soloist awards by age 14.

He then built his own drum kit from coffee cans and boxes and learned drums--first jazz, then rock and pop. After playing for only one year, he started playing in jazz bands, then rock and Portuguese dance bands.  By age 15 he also learned the electric bass, again starting in competition jazz bands before moving to other styles.

By age 16, Helder played weekly in working bands. Helder soon recorded his first tracks as a studio drummer and trombonist, and by age 18 had appeared on 4 albums and several commercial jingles.

Helder got the bug to learn more instruments and learned the electric guitar and the piano. By his early 20's, Helder played in several bands simultaneously, all with different instruments, in addition to session work.

After several years of recording, Helder embarked on a career as a producer. In 1985 he produced the "Porque Sorrimos" and "Vida Portuguesa" records with Luis Sousa. With songs co-written by Helder, Alcino Carvalheira, and Luis Sousa; production, arrangements, and all instruments performed by Helder; complex vocal harmonies also arranged by Helder; and music videos directed by Aires Medeiros Jr., these recordings were hits in the North American Portuguese music market, and set standards for production polish on Portuguese pop music.

Helder continued working onstage, eventually joining "Nova Era" as keyboardist and guitarist. It was here that Helder first worked with João Cardadeiro. Ultimately, Helder formed, "Meia Noite", which became the most successful Portuguese band in its market. He also played bass in "Amigos da Horta" with Jose Elmiro Nunes, headlining the 1988 "Semana do Mar" festival in Horta, Faial, Acores..

In 1992, Helder joined Montage Recording Studios as a staff producer and engineer, working on rock, R&B, metal, country, and Portuguese albums. After working nonstop for 15 years, Helder took a 2-year sabbatical from music to refocus. He then returned to familiar territory, jazz, producing and releasing "Past Midnight", a collection of new age and swing jazz compositions.

In 1996, Helder had his first taste of Fado at the Parreirinha de Alfama Fado House in Lisbon. He was immediately hooked, but the Guitarra Portuguesa appeared to be the most difficult instrument he had tackled to date. Two years later he obtained his first Guitarra Portuguesa, but it wasn't until 2000 that Helder seriously focused on learning Fado. By early 2001 he hit the stage with his new instrument, playing shows with various musicians and fadistas, eventually teaming with Manuel Escobar on viola and João Cardadeiro on viola baixo, and here we are today . . .


In playing Fado with the Guitarra Portuguesa, he has finally found the instrument that exposes the deepest reaches of his soul through music.