Who Were the Ganhões








The roots of the “cante” from Alentejo are lost in history, just like the origin of these songs of the earth – whose tradition is kept by “Os Ganhões” - is lost in the history of Castro Verde. Today, like yesterday, “Os Ganhões” keep their authenticity. Heirs of their own tradition: that of a “cante” which used to be of work and now is more closely related to leisure and sociability, but above all it is always a cultural statement. A “cante” from the plains, sung by rugged faced men used to the sun that lights the evening and eager to share this ancient knowledge, maybe as ancient as the land where they live: Alentejo. The Alentejo that “Os Ganhões” have taken in their voice and character to all the country and to some international festivals, in which they give particular importance to the ethnographic features and the traditional songs. “Os Ganhões”’ repertoire includes some of the most genuine “modas” (songs) of the Baixo Alentejo, expressed through a polyphony of rich mediterranean tradition.

“Those who are born in the Alentejo keep in them the Alentejo forever. Therefore, the Alentejo is infinite. The plains seem endless because they really are so. Inside the people there are fields with holm and cork oaks, there are faces creased by the sun, skins with the earth’s wrinkles. Inside the people there are wheat fields.

The “cante” is the voice of that endless land. The men walk down the streets when they come from the fields in the evening. In their eyes they bring the sunburnt dust. At that hour, a little before sunset, a breeze rises from the faces of the men. That cool breeze glides over the streets’ cobblestones, along the whitewashed houses where there was life and death, through the smiles, through the children who play outside. The “cante” is that breeze.”

José Luís Peixoto