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Maria (Fernandes) Alves

ALVES, Maria (Fernandes) Maria (Fernandes) Alves, of South Hadley, MA, the first American born performer of the Portuguese music form known as Fado, died in Hartford on Friday, (May 9, 2008) of a brief illness. She had recently been cited by the United States Senate for her many contributions through music to the Portuguese community in this country. Her career began at the age of 14 and continued up until this past summer. Well-known throughout the northeast, she had also appeared in concert, on radio and television in Lisbon, Portugal; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Canada. Her recordings spanned four decades. In 1964 she was honored by the State of Connecticut, by then Governor Thomas Meskill, for her work on behalf of the then growing Portuguese communities of Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury and Naugatuck. In 1996 the Day of Portugal Association of the State of Rhode Island honored her with special recognition for her work in the Portuguese communities of that state. Again in the fall of 2007 she was recognized by the Mayor of Providence and the Governor of Rhode Island for her many contributions to the culture of her heritage. Born in Cambridge, MA to Maria (Duarte) and Frank Fernandes, she resided in South Hadley, MA for over 60 years. She shared her life and career for over 53 years with her late husband, John Alves. She leaves her son, John of Hartford, her son, Frank and daughter-in-law, Susan of Springfield, MA; and also grandchildren, Tracey Lear and husband, Jerel, Frank, Jr. and wife, Roanda, and Justin; two great-grandchildren, Shelby and Jerel Lear, Jr.; her sister, Marion McCormick of Holyoke, MA; her brothers, Manuel of Chicopee, MA, James, Ceasar, Alfred and Joseph of South Hadley, MA; and Virgil of Idaho. She also leaves sisters-in-law, Lucinda Nunes and Mary G. Alves of Windsor, and Mary R. Alves of Brampton, Ontario, Canada; as well as many nieces, nephews and her dearest friend from the age of 14, June Beattie of South Hadley, MA. The Funeral for Maria will be on Wednesday at 9 a.m. from the Ryder Funeral Home, 33 Lamb St., South Hadley, MA followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Patrick's Church at 10 a.m., and burial in St. Rose Cemetery, both in South Hadley. Calling Hours will be on Tuesday from 3-9 p.m. Contributions in Maria's name to either St. Patrick's Church Building Fund, 30 Main St., South Hadley, MA, 01075 or to the Museum of Madeiran Heritage, 27 Hope St., New Bedford, MA, 02741 would be appreciated.

Published in The Hartford Courant on May 12, 2008
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