Sérgio Godinho's 25 April: From exile in Canada to freedom in Portugal

Sérgio Godinho in the "hot" times of the 1970s
Sérgio Godinho in the "hot" times of the 1970s Copyright Arquivo pessoal de Sérgio Godinho
Copyright Arquivo pessoal de Sérgio Godinho
By Ricardo Figueira
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied
This article was originally published in Portuguese

"I learnt about the revolution from a newspaper article while I was in exile in Canada", says Sérgio Godinho, one of the loudest resistance voices of the Portuguese revolution.


Sérgio Godinho's career is just a few years older than democracy in Portugal. In 1974, the year of the revolution, he released his third studio album, 'À queima-roupa' (At Point Blank Range).

The singer of the resistance was living in exile in Canada and had left behind two albums recorded during the dictatorship, the first of which, "Os sobreviventes" (recorded in 1971 and released the following year), was banned by the regime, followed by "Pré-histórias" (1972).

Godinho notes the interesting coincidence between the names of the albums and the situation in Portugal: "The name 'Os sobreviventes' has to do with the past, with everything that had happened up to that point, with those who survived. 'Prehistories', deals with the possibility of an announcement. One way or another, the singer seemed to indicate that something like 25 April would happen. And 'À queima-roupa' was launched in the middle of PREC (the ongoing revolutionary process).

Since then, he has established himself as one of the key voices of free and democratic Portugal.

Godinho spoke to Euronews Culture about 50 years of freedom in Portugal, which he is marking giving a series of concerts in the country. 

Sérgio Godinho nos anos 70
Sérgio Godinho nos anos 70Arquivo pessoal de Sérgio Godinho

Back to the "hustle and bustle"

"I was in Vancouver. I was in the Pacific Ocean. In other words, it was peaceful," he says with a smile. "And I came to the mess. I heard about it through a very laconic report in the newspaper, which only said that army tanks had occupied Lisbon's central square. I was in doubt as to whether it was a coup against the regime or a coup by the extreme right and it wasn't until a few days later, when I read about the Armed Forces Movement, that I realised the meaning of the coup and felt immense joy. I spoke to my father, who was a great anti-fascist. Non-practising, but anti-fascist. So I decided to come, along with the mother of my eldest daughter. I spent two weeks here, returned to Canada to finish recording my third album and returned to Portugal for good in September 1974."

I found out about April 25th through a very laconic article in the newspaper, which said only that army tanks had occupied the central square of Lisbon.
Sérgio Godinho
Singer and author

And how was that return to the hustle and bustle? "It was very good. For 15 days, I sang in countless 'free corners' (spontaneous concerts) that were organised almost daily and in a very spontaneous way. It was a great thrill to finally be able to sing - I only had two discs, but people could sing the songs from those discs, they could say "freedom is passing through here" (lyrics from the 1971 song "Maré Alta"), on the spot. It was a very important thing," he says.

The song "Liberdade", recorded in 1974, became an anthem of the Portuguese left, with its famous refrain "Peace, bread, education, health and housing". For him, the lyrics have not lost any of their relevance and it makes perfect sense to continue singing what remains one of his greatest hits: "We don't live in a perfect society and there are still problems in all these sectors," he says.

Don't let up

The current state of Portugal worries him, particularly in view of the results of the last legislative elections, in which Chega managed to more than quadruple the number of deputies in the Assembly of the Republic, with a solid third place and more than 18 per cent of the vote.

"These last elections have shaken up a lot of people," he says. "This rise of the extreme right is frightening and worrying. Even the level of attendance at my concerts, I feel, has to do with the fact that people are a bit shaken and need to come together and react." That's why, he adds, "you have to be very alert" and his music remains relevant.

I feel that the degree of adherence to my concerts has to do with the fact that people feel shaken by what is happening.
Sérgio Godinho
Singer and author

Concerts all over the country

Sérgio Godinho is touring the country with the "Liberdade 25" concert , a name that wasn't chosen at random as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the April revolution and recovers the name of one of his most emblematic songs.

As well as dates in the coliseums of Lisbon and Porto at the end of March, he has played in several symbolic spots in Portugal, including in the courtyard of the Practical Cavalry School in Santarém, from where Salgueiro Maia's tanks left in the early hours of 24-25 April 1974, what he calls the "kilometre zero" of the revolution.

Journalist • Ricardo Figueira

Video editor • Bruno Filipe Figueiredo Da Silva

Share this articleComments

You might also like