Although many people choose to spend their holidays in Cape Verde for the sandy beaches and crystal-clear seas, there’s another reason these islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are well-loved by visitors from around the world.
Cesária Évora – better known as the “barefoot diva” because she liked to perform without wearing shoes – became famous for singing in the blues-style of Cape Verde, known as Morna. Achingly beautiful, these melodies are said to be influenced by the country’s history owing to Portuguese occupation from the middle 15th Century to 1975.
Placed in an orphanage at ten years old, Évora’s is a rags-to-riches story, particularly when she was persuaded to sing in a sailors’ tavern at the age of sixteen, and from there began singing on Portuguese cruise ships stopping at Mindelo, a port city on São Vicente. She spent her younger years on Cape Verde working and singing on local radio.
In 1985, when Évora (Cise to her friends) was 44, she was invited to accompany another Cape Verdean singer to perform in Portugal. While singing in Lisbon, her rich contralto vocals entranced musician José da Silva, who invited her to record her first album “La Diva Aux Pieds Nus” in Paris.
Renowned for pausing her concerts for a smoke and a draft of beer, Évora never wandered far from her island roots. In 1992 she sold 300,000 copies of her fourth album, Miss Perfumado, and went on to release a total of ten albums in all. In 2004, she won a Grammy Award for her album Voz D’Amor.
Described by Cape Verdean President Jorge Carlos Fonseca as “one of the major cultural reference of Cape Verde”, Évora died on her native island in December 2011, sparking two days of national mourning.
Cesária Évora – Wikipedia Creative Commons
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