The Grandfather Songs.
What would you answer if you were asked: “Who is the best-known grandfather in Portugal?” …It’s him we’re talking about: Avô Cantigas. The musical pedagogue who has delighted generations for over 30 years and who, in an unprecedented way, remained at the top of sales, for a year, with the most successful album ever “Fantasminha Brincalhão”
The one who could have been a sailor or an uncle turned out to be a grandfather. Attentive, fun, wise, he appears on the national scene to fill a space on the RTP program Passeio dos Alegres, back in 1982. “At that time, the country stopped to watch television. It was a powerful moment and I was lucky enough to appear on that occasion”, says Carlos Alberto Vidal, the person who is so often confused with the character he is wearing. “When people like Avô Cantigas, they like me because I’m always myself. Avô Cantigas has about the issues, and the world that surrounds him, the ideas that Carlos Vidal has ”, he confesses.
An only child, Carlos was born in Lousã in 1954 and, aged 11, embarked on a trip to Cascais with his parents in search of a better life. “If my parents hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have had the life I had”, he guarantees.
He studied at Salesianos do Estoril and ended up working at the music conservatory for 3 years, when he recorded his first album. There followed 10 years of light music, popular music and – hard to imagine for the man who wears overalls and flannel shirts – even progressive rock. All this before the appearance of the grandfather who conquered entire families in the country. The meteoric rise on television was not momentary and Grandfather continues to be a phenomenon of longevity with white hair. What is the secret? “There needs to be empathy between the person and the audience and that’s what happened to me. It’s a love relationship,” he says.
Carlos Alberto Vidal, who offstage maintains the soft and close register of Avô Cantigas, making it difficult to separate the artist from the artistic work, is a man aware of the success he has achieved: “I am aware that Avô Cantigas is a character who everyone knows it and that it has reached a level that, even if it is absent for some time, it does not fade from people’s memories.”
Interestingly, over the years, a grandfather appears in a rejuvenating phase, more modern wearing a cap with a cooler look, maintaining, despite the years, his brand image made at the expense of fantastic round glasses and, of course, overalls.
Along the way, the wig, the pipe and the cavaquinho remained. Objects with extreme sentimental value that one day will occupy a place at Associação Avô Cantigas, an institution that helps children in difficulty. But unlike objects, which tend to be valued over time, Carlos Vidal believes that this is not the case with people: “People leave their traces but nothing is immortal. So I believe mine will be lost too.”
Immortal or not, the reality is that Avô Cantigas immortalizes children’s music, with a unique timbre, keeping its audience loyal: “Today’s children have other ways of playing but at concerts they are all the same. I’ve had children who said to me: I would love it so much that you were my real grandfather!” An evident sign of the connection between two people that satisfies his life: “What makes me happy is a stage full of Avô Cantigas. A simple concert, of a one man show ”.
Approaching 60, Grandfather is in great shape. Unstoppable, the singer prepares for the new show, which combines conversation with music as a way of educating – “It’s good to dream” – with a national tour. “Reform?! Yes and no, ”he replies. “There is a time when one feels entitled to laziness! I would like to be able to make my leisure time something more prolonged because it gives me a deep sense of life and helps me to feel good while I am here, but I still feel full of energy.”
During the conversation, Carlos Vidal reveals himself to be a man with a contagious smile, intelligent, profound and concerned with the issues surrounding him: “I’m not a philosopher, I’m a singer. But we all have a bit of Agostinho da Silva. As I get older I try to be a better person and more enlightened about the intricacies of things that cross our minds. We came into the world to be happy!”
He who has already done, as the saying goes, the three essential things in life – plant a tree, write a book (in this case a children’s book) and make a child (actually two) – loves to read, listen to music, go to the cinema, go for walks and running on the wall several times a week, because athletics is a pleasure you can’t do without.
So, when you come across the singer, don’t forget…. Beyond Avô Cantigas is an inspiring Carlos Vidal.
At just 6 years old, he sang the song “A Procissão” at a Christmas party at Companhia de Papel do Prado. He moves to Cascais where he starts playing the guitar and composing and making songs. He was a friend of Rita Ribeiro who got him in contact with someone who had knowledge of the Imavox publishing house.
In 1973 he recorded the single As Filhas da Tia Anica. This is followed by the single Bom Dia, Senhor Alberto! in March 1974.
The album Changri-Lá, released in 1976, is a unique album in his career. It is considered by many to be a milestone in the field of progressive rock made in Portugal.
In 1978 he recorded the single Em Mangas de Camisa for Orfeu. In 1979, he participated with several songs at the I Festival da Nova Canção in Lisbon.
In 1981 he participated in the RTP program “Palhaços À Solta” with Croquete and Batatinha (António Branco). That year he had great success with the theme “A Cantiga do Chouriço”.
The character “Avô Cantigas”, an alter-ego of the musician, was created by António Avelar de Pinho and Carlos Alberto Vidal for the program “O Passeio dos Alegres” by Júlio Isidro. He recorded the album As Cantigas do Avô Cantigas.
In 1985, a single was released with Chega O Menino Jesus do Avô Cantigas. In 1986, the album Histórias do Corpo Humano was released. In 1987 he released the single Planeta Azul. The following year, the single Balada de Neve was released.
He participates, with Sofia Sá da Bandeira, in the program “Vitaminas”. He then creates a new character with “Guarda Vidal”.
In 2004, he won the Great March of Lisbon competition with the theme ”Lisboa namorar”.
In 2007, as Avô Cantigas, he had a great success with ”Fantasminha Brincalhão”, which remained for several months at the top of national sales. The disc was reissued with more themes and a DVD version was released. Atchim becomes another great success of the grandfather singles.
He returns with Gosto Tanto de Ti, with the participation of names such as Mafalda Veiga, Dany Silva or Shout.
In 2011, a book was released and in 2012, the album É Tao Bom Sonhar was released.
In 2021 he released the album Salsifré das Galinhas by the publisher País Real.