The Soprano from Sangolda

by Fr Nascimento Mascarenhas

[This piece on soprano Joanne-Marie D’Mello was written by Fr Nascimento in January 2002. Since then Joanne has studied at the Royal College of Music in London and gone from strength to strength as a singer. Joanne will next be performing at the Lunchtime Concert Series on 9 April 2010, St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, London]

The day was 27th January, 2002. It was 5 o’clock in the evening. I decided to visit my friends Joe and Jean D’Mello at their residence in Barro-vaddo, Sangolda, as I had not seen them for some time, and also wanted to meet their children Joanne-Marie and Jovito. The young Joanne, a mezzo-soprano singer, had recently been profusely praised for her performance at the Kala Academy in Panjim.

It took me just about 15 minutes to walk from Tabravaddo-Mollebhatt in Saligao, Goa, to the D’Mello residence. I rang the bell. There was no reply. I knocked at the door and called out loudly, “Gharant konn asa?” Anyone at home? I waited for a moment or two and then, on hearing no reply, turned around and decided to return home. But opposite the house I spotted Joe D’Mello’s father Dominick, who was enjoying the evening breeze. I asked him where his son was. Just then Dominick’s wife Mary arrived on the scene. In her typical Sangoldonean way she said, “Jean ani Joanne Igorjent geleant”. I told her I would visit my cousin Natty Mascarenhas e Pinto in the neighborhood and would drop by again to meet Joe and his family on my way back.

About half an hour later, Joe and his daughter Joanne-Marie were at Natty’s residence, greeting me with radiating smiles. I congratulated Joe for being inducted as a member of the newly formed Parish Council of Guirim-Sangolda Church that morning. Joanne enthusiastically chipped in: “Father, I am going to receive Confirmation on the 10th of February.” I was happy with the news. Then both of them led me to their home. There I met Jean and Jovito too, along with their neighbour Gia Kulkarni.

Jean said, “Father, you have come on a very auspicious day. Fifteen years ago on this very day our Joanne was baptised, and your visit has made us very happy.” I congratulated the highly-rated singer Joanne. Joe asked me what I would like to have and I replied that a cup of tea would be just perfect. Jovito offered to make it, and soon returned from the kitchen with a steaming cup of tea, which was absolutely refreshing.

Starting young

I was keen to hear about Joanne’s musical career and her achievements as a child. With an enchanting smile, Joanne began telling me about herself: “I was born on 27th October 1986. At three, my mother introduced me to my first song, Take a Spade and Dig,” Joanne said.

Her father interrupted: “I think it was when you were four, dear.”

Joanne continued, “I loved the angel singing at the Salves in our chapel and I was wondering when I would be chosen as one of the angels. I got the opportunity to dress as an angel when I was five years old and I was thrilled. That was the first time I sang in public; our music teacher Anita had trained us.”

Joanne-Marie D’Mello performs at Mae de Deus Church, Saligao, Goa, on 30 July 2009 [Uploaded by tambdimati]

“At this time Miss Prisca from Monte-Ville of the pop group Imaginations began teaching me the guitar,” Joanne remembered. “I was tiny and the guitar was huge – I could hardly hold it. I learned to play chords. Later I attended guitar classes at Guirim. Mr Rodney Dias was my tutor, and I progressed a little more. When I was six I took part in the All-Goa Singing Competition organised by the Past Pupil’s Association of Monte de Guirim High School. The song chosen was Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which my mother taught me.”

“My singing was getting noticed,” Joanne continued shyly. “The parish priests chose me to sing the Veronica Chant at the Sixth Passo in Lent for three years in succession. My teacher Anita from Sangolda began giving me violin lessons now. I was then in the sixth standard at school, eleven years old.”

Joe interrupted, “Joanne did all her schooling at Lourdes Convent in Saligao and through her school she participated in the singing competition at Mapuca where she secured the second prize.”

Other details of Joanne-Marie’s training and singing successes have been extensively documented by my friend Daniel D’Souza in Goan dailies and on the Internet, so I will not repeat them here.

Trophies galore

Joanne’s mother proudly showed me a trophy that was recently presented to her daughter by Lourdes Convent. Inscribed on the trophy was the following tribute: “From Lourdes Convent, presented to Joanne D’Mello, for outstanding achievements throughout her school career, by the Management, Headmistress & Staff of Lourdes Convent High School, Saligao, 15th December 2001.” The school had also presented her with a diya (traditional lamp) shaped like a peacock and a shawl, on the same occasion.

Joanne mentioned that she was a great admirer of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the New Zealand soprano, who sang Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim” at the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Meanwhile, Joanne’s mother, beaming, continued to show me the various certificates and trophies her daughter had won, and also all the photos and write-ups that had appeared in the press.

Joanne Marie D’Mello is the daughter of Joseph (Joe) D’Mello and Jean Mendonca e D’Mello. Joe works for MPT in Mormugao while Jean is a teacher in Siolim. Jean said, “I am a pucca Sangoddkarn but Joe is a ganvkar of Serula. His forefathers came from Serula in 1897 and settled in Sangolda’s Barro-vaddo.”

Joanne’s paternal grandparents are Dominick D’Mello and Mary D’Mello. They are nicknamed “Goro”, and the nickname is inscribed for posterity on a slab fixed to the pillar of the gate outside their residence. On the maternal side, Joanne is the granddaughter of Antoninho Mendonca and Elizabeth Mendonca, from Bela Vista, Sangolda.

Saligao connection

Her paternal aunt Eliza D’Mello married Carlos Fernandes from Mudd’davaddi in Saligao and his maternal aunt Pamela (Pammie) has married David Fernandes, from Donvaddo in Saligao, whereas Lawrie, the youngest brother of Joe, married Melina Dias from Mudd’davaddi, Saligao.

Joanne’s great-great-grandmother, Eleziana Coutinho, is also from Mudd’davaddi, Saligao. So Joanne has a lot of connections with Saligao too. Joanne’s brother Jovito studies at Monte de Guirim High School and plays the piano.

My visit to the D’Mello residence was a very rewarding experience, and I left wishing Joanne every success in her future undertakings.

5 comments on The Soprano from Sangolda

  • Lindsay Yeaman (nee Lawson)

    Thank you for posting this interesting piece on Joanne-Marie D’Mello. I had visited India when I was young and befriended Joe on my trip with my parents. It is lovely to read about the success of his georgous daughter and experience her singing posted on you Tube.
    I was not sure I had the right D’Mello but when you described the parents and who Joe had married I remembered my mother’s conversations with me regarding his family connections.

    My mother was also from Sangolda – Gerina Pinto. My parents migrated to Australia where I have lived for most of my life, it has been most difficult tracking down the people I had met in Goa that Christmas in 1975. I returned again in 1986 and visited some of them. Hopefully my son and I will return in the near future to visit my cousins who still reside locally. My Uncle Romeo Pinto recently expired and this has made me long to see my relative and experience the Goan scenery and hospitality.

  • fr. nascimento mascarenhas

    Thank you very much for your comments. I hope you and your son will meet many of your relatives from Sangolda when you visit them next. God bless you all.


    Joane my congratulations very good singer and many hapiness Vicent and Marta

  • nascimento mascarenhas

    Dear Marta and Vincent.
    Joanne is pursuing higher musical studies in London under Patricia Rosario. She was here last here and performed at Kala Accademy, Panjim. She has improved a lot in singing. Soon we will have a class singer in western classical music. God bless you. fr, nascimento mascarenhas.

  • Clara Diniz e Pereira

    I chanced upon Joanne’s video singing at Monte Festival and was very, very impressed. I wish this young lady many years of good singing specially for the Lord.

    Best wishes from Canada!

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