African Music Encyclopedia

 

Cesaria Evora

 

photo of Cesaria Evora

Cesaria Evora, born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.

Long known as the queen of the morna, a soulful genre sung in Creole-Portuguese, she mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora's Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country's long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.

"Morna is like the blues because it is a way to express life's suffering in music."
Evora's voice, a finely-tuned, melancholy instrument with a touch of hoarseness, highlights her emotional phrasing by accenting a word or phrase. Even audiences who do not understand her language are held spell-bound by the emotions evident in her performances.

Now 54, and a grandmother (though never married), Evora is gladdened by her current worldwide popularity,

"... in all those years when I sang in bars and in front of strangers I sometimes had an idea I might someday be successful outside my country. The thought never stayed with me for very long, but here I am."

Cesaria Discography:

La Diva aux Pieds Nus (Lusafrica/Melodie, France)
Mar Azul (Lusafrica/Melodie, France)
Distino di Belita
Miss Perfumado (Lusafrica/Melodie, France)
Cesaria (Lusafrica) 1995
Saudades (best of) 1995


Back to The African Music Encyclopedia: Music From Africa and the African Diaspora


Copyright © 1995-1998 Janet Planet
jplanet@africanmusic.org