Local icon, universal angel
(by: Laura Romero (with contributions by André Cunha)
Sofia Saldanha passed away last sunday morning, 25th of December, evaporating from a body that could no longer go ahead.
But she is echoing inside us forever.
She will be missed terribly: hearing her laughing, seeing her with the headphones recording and listening to the sound, or watching her hands editing so many wor(l)ds and silences…
Radio was a nest, and a family for her: a family she always generously amplified, from the original days at Radio Universitária do Minho in Braga, back in the 90’s (when she also joined Sindicato da Poesia, a poetry reading outstanding group), until some of her last “works still in progress” for Antena-2, poesia.fm and other radios or cultural projects now in 2022.
In the widest wave of the middle of life, her radio rainbow went around the world, making Sofia probably the most international iberian radio artist ever, from Radio Atlas to BBC and so many other frequencies, festivals or art projects.
Nominations and prizes came naturally, from Third Coast to Marulic, HearSay, Prix Europa and more…
This exact year, some fellows of the radio family were unfair with Sofia.
One of her last pieces was taken out of a prize, after being initially nominated because she couldn’t be present physically, on spot, at the listening and voting jury sessions.
Independent freelancers cannot easily “pay” for “representatives”.
Independent freelancers who are struggling to stay on air cannot… [Sofia is now smiling – like always – and simply saying: “We are not going to waste time with that, Laura… let’s talk about something else more important, what’s the next story to record?”]
Within the collective In The Dark she was engaged for years in organising public listening sessions in London, Lisbon, Berlin.
Her sound work is delicate, elegant, honest and very true.
And so many times, it’s pure sound literature, like the Lisbon audioguide following Fernando Pessoa’s life and steps.
Sofia became ill a little over a year ago.
During the last months, despite the relapses, she continued creating, giving kindness to others and smiling.
“A tender poet” says Eleanor McDowall, “un’anima gentile“, waves Daria Corrias.
“Pure goodness in person”, loops João Almeida, from Antena-2, the portuguese public radio.
“Our beloved Sofia”, whisper so many of us.
“An icon from Braga”, headlines a journalist from her hometown, on the edge of fairly saintifying her.
Sofia was a free radio author, she fought for her own projects, one by one, for her pieces, for her truth, with no other ambition than to love strongly what we do.
Engaged with herself.
Sofia gave me a sister in Braga, her lovely friend Helena.
The two of them made me love the Minho region when I lived there and showed me how big and good one heart can be in a woman, a woman like Sofia.
We will be sharing more of her audio pieces in the future, and more info about upcoming listening sessions with her.
Yes, with her.
Because Sofia stays on us.
Sofia is a channel.
A poetry channel.
Every time someone listens to her, one is being touched by an angel.
Edwin Brys (Belgium): Dear Laura, do you realize how important and eternal your statement is.
It is a touching immortalisation and a strong consolation for family, friends and fellow travellers in sound.