Fado Novato: The Journey From Novice to Noteworthy


A trio dedicated themselves to immersing in, learning and then performing the “saddest music in the world.” They’re home.

Fado, a dramatic form of Portuguese urban folk music, is arguably the saddest music in the world, that is, if you ask vocalist Shay Estes and guitarists Beau Bledsoe and Jordan Shipley. The trio of local performers discovered their mutual love for the genre and committed to a goal of performing Fado in the most authentic way possible.

They formed Fado Novato (“Fado beginner”), secured $17,700 in funding and traveled to Portugal in June to learn from native musicians, gain insight into performing Fado through private lessons and immerse the group in the local culture. They plan to learn and perform Fado music from the state of uneducated novices to world-stage professionals and document the entire process.

While in Portugal, the group performed at the SOU Santo Festival in Lisbon and the Madrid Fado Festival in Spain. Once they return to Kansas City, Fado Novato plans to create a long-term, installation performance space. Incorporating local visual and performance artists, they will present a Kansas City replica of a Lisbon Fado house. There, the group will host concerts, workshops, classes and special events, including performances from Fado artists visiting from other cities.

Follow the ensemble’s journey at