The leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) appears to be on a mission to promote world music in Hong Kong, and next week it's fado's turn with the eagerly awaited return of modern Portuguese diva Misia. 'In view of the enthusiastic response to folk and ethnic concerts at the Hong Kong Arts Festival in recent years we are organising concerts this year. Misia gave two sold-out concerts during the 2002 Hong Kong Arts Festival,' explains an LCSD spokesman. The performance at the Cultural Centre Concert Hall on Tuesday will be the final date of an Asian tour for an artist who is perhaps the most internationally popular exponent of the 'Portuguese blues', following on from engagements in Singapore, South Korea and Macau. At least in Macau a fair proportion of the audience will understand the lyrics, although in the view of many reviewers, including one writing for the New York Times, it doesn't really matter whether you do or not. Her singing, the critic wrote, is 'so expressive that you don't need to understand the Portuguese words to comprehend the bitter experience and pain'. It's probably closer to the truth that part of the growing popular appeal of vocal music sung in languages unfamiliar to the listener is simple laziness. If you don't understand the words you don't have to pay attention to them. Misia, however, sings musical settings of lyrics by some of Portugal's greatest poets, including Nobel laureate Jose Saramago who has written specially for her. Most of the lyrics for her latest CD, Canto, were commissioned from poet Vasco Graca Moura, who she chose because she felt his words would have a special affinity with the style of composer and guitarist Carlos Paredes who provided the music. Fado is as much a poetic as a musical form, but the New York Times got the 'bitter experience and pain' part right. Fado is compared to the blues because its dominant emotion is sadness for which the Portuguese word is saudade. Nobody seems sure of where or when the earliest fados originated, but something recognisable as the form was certainly to be heard on the streets of the poorer areas of Lisbon by the mid-19th century. Like jazz the music was originally played in taverns and brothels. It developed in a similar way in Portugal's second city, Porto, but a separate strain with links to mediaeval song forms emerged in the university town of Coimbra, where it was performed by students and professors, and the music started to trade its way up to middle class respectability. Fado's golden age is generally considered to be the first half of the 20th century, and particularly the period after 1939 when Amalia Rodrigues, still revered as the greatest fadista of them all, emerged from Lisbon's Alfama district - even today the best area of the town in which to hear the music. Rodrigues set the fadista style of always wearing black to emphasise the mournful nature of the songs. She was also the first exponent of the genre to enjoy some measure of international success, although purists were not impressed. With Canto, Misia has also taken a step away from Lisbon fado, but, like Rodrigues, without losing the soulful fadista quality in her singing, or departing from the traditional instrumentation of the music, which involves the Spanish classical guitar, the 12-stringed Portuguese guittara and sometimes viola, piano, violin or accordion. She is regarded as one of the performers bridging traditional fado and a more modern approach to the music's ancient themes, and has been credited with - or blamed for - introducing the music to Sting. On Tuesday she gets her second opportunity to convert Hong Kong - whether or not we understand the words. Misia appears at the Cultural Centre Concert Hall at 8pm on Tuesday. Tickets priced at $300, 250, $200 and $120 are available from URBTIX outlets.