Dear Mr. Mira - Some time ago I archived and remastered old folk music from my mother's family tape. It was the old reel-to-reel audio tape, and it was recorded sometime in the 1950s when many of my great-aunts, great-grandparents, and older kinfolk were still alive. Some of the music sounded familiar to me from growing up around the Appalachian music known as "bluegrass." However there was this music that wasn't familiar to me that was sung by the women ONLY. This singing by the women was done in unison, and was very, very religious, but it was unlike any type of religious singing I had ever heard in my life. The scales and pitch range in which they sung had the most haunting, spine-tingling quality to it, but at the same time was so beautiful and emotional to the point of bringing about tears from my eyes. Now, as to why I am writing this to you is because I am of Melungeon descent and am continually researching my ancestry for clues that could tie them to Portugal and northern Spain (Galicia). Well, about a year ago I went to a music store looking for traditional Portuguese music, but more specifically the traditional music: dances, ballads, ritual songs, instrumental.
Not so much looking for the fado as I was already familiar with that wonderful music. I found this album from the Smithsonian Institute called "Musical Traditions from Portugal" which was just what I was looking for indeed.
The first group of music played on the album was music from Northeast Portugal which featured the wonderful bagpipes played in that area. And the second segment of this album featured ritual songs and chant from the Central East part. These chant songs, as I am sure you know, were sung by the women of the most traditional area in Portugal. The final song in this group of songs was called "Encomendação das Almas e Martirios", translated: " Chant for the Souls in Purgatory and for Martyrdom", and an extra piece translated as "Song in Praise of Jesus." What I heard Manuel gave me chills up my spine, and tears to my eyes as what I heard was so similar to the music of my female ancestors. As I put together the puzzle of my ancestry I can't help but to speculate that these two cultures, Portuguese and Melungeon, are certainly connected. And my own discovery of these two almost identical musics, only separated by language, just added to the facts about our forgotten cultural heritage. Could you please tell me what you may know about this religious music called Chant from the Central East part of Portugal. And if you are interested in comparing the music of my family with Chant from Port. I would be glad to send you a copy these songs. You also have my permission to put these findings on your web page. Please e-mail me back and let me know what you think Mr. Mira. In the future I would like to share with you more of my findings, both linguistic and cultural, to the pile of facts connecting the Melungeon to the Portuguese. Thank you for your time dear sir and I wish you a merry Christmas to you and your family.
P.S. Portuguese names researching: Calle, Calero, Carico, Molina or Molinao,Moreno
Dear Mr. Counts - Thank you for your information. Please do send any information that you may come across.
It is interesting to note that I grew up with this same type of religious music and always enjoyed a good chorus group singing and at the same time, without being brought up in the Appalachians, I also like Blue Grass music very much. The type of music you're mentioning, sound likes Fatima which is located in the center of Portugal, but may be other areas. Please send me a copy in a cassette, I'll be glad to listen and give you any information that I may be able to obtain. Your letter will be placed on the web site and maybe others will come up with more information.
Have a Merry Holiday or "Boas Festas" in Portuguese.
PS: You know that your name may also come from the name "Conde". A very popular name used very often even today. Maybe your ancestors were royalty?
Dear Mr. Mira - This morning as I read the "New Bedford Standard Times" I was thrilled to see the article about you and your book. I live in Florida and will see if I can order a copy of it. My family is Portuguese (mama and her family came from Faial, Azores, daddy's mother came from the Azores as well, his father's parents were also Azoreans... I take much pride in the fact of my family's history and am proud to be a "Portuguese" American. My vovo always told me to never forget the earth of the old country flowed in my veins and to always tell people I was not just an American, but a Portuguese American and do so with my head held high.... Am very excited about the book. L.A.C.
Dear Mr. L.A.C. - Just to thank you to write about the Portuguese role in the American History. I was born in the Island of Faial, came to this country in 1961. Married a girl from Madeira, have one daughter 17, Antone, good luck in your endeavors. A.C.
Dear Mr. Mira - I believe my last name "MOZINGO", not in its current spelling, to be of Portuguese origin and derived from "MOUZINHO" or the alcunha "MOZINHO". Do you have any evidence to support this? The earliest recorded Mozingo is in 1672 where Edward Mozingo in Rappahannock County, VA an indentured servant is asking for his release from servitude, Do you have any information?
Dear Mr. B.M.- Your information is very interesting. It is definitely a Portuguese name and of a famous Portuguese of the 19th century of a noble family. The alcunha or nickname close to it would be "MAUZINHO", meaning bad in a gentle manner, not being really bad but a little bad. First we must search the passenger list of ships coming to America during the 16 and 17th centuries. We welcome any suggestion from our readers.