When talking about 25th April of 1974 it comes to mind to many Portuguese ”Grândola, Vila Morena’’ a forbidden song by the regime, which became the hymn of the Carnation Revolution. The song was composed by Zeca Afonso. Born in Aveiro on the 2nd of August, 1929, José Afonso spent his childhood in Angola and Mozambique, later in Belmonte, a small town in Portugal. His political consciousness was developed mostly among the student’s life in Coimbra, where he graduated from school and studied at the University. On his 5th year in highschool, he was singing serenates in song of Coimbra style and the university students called him ‘’singer bug’’. ‘’Bug’’ as it was a nickname for high school students and singer for his voice and talent. He lived a bohemian life, singing the traditional Fado of Coimbra and in the Orfeão (choir), participating in the university ‘’tuna’’ (musical group of university students) and playing football at the Académica de Coimbra Association.
In the 60s, Zeca Afonso began to distance himself from the song of Coimbra and made his own compositions, a great majority of songs with political issues. Much of his work was censored for criticizing the regime. Although he kept apart from any political party, the musician became an active political voice. He represented the Democratic Resistance, was arrested by PIDE (the government police) and forbidden to teach in schools.
Besides that, he never gave up showing his opinion, composing and singing.
After the Revolution, he continued giving support sessions and participated in many other movements in Portugal and abroad, and kept singing.
José Afonso died in 1987, but many of his songs continued to be recorded by many Portuguese and foreign students, becoming the biggest icon in contemporary history and music.
If you would like to know more about Zeca Afonso and his life in Coimbra, just do our Giro Coimbra with us!