voz d'amor

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The third post in this African Music series is about the great diva from Cape Verde, Cesária Évora.

AFRICA DIVAS

She was born in Mindelo in Cape Verde on 27 August 1941. Her parents were poor, and after her father’s death (probably due to alcoholism), her mother placed her in an orphanage. Here she was introduced to music when she joined the orphanage choir.

When she was older, she started singing in the local bars of Mindelo, a glass in one hand, a cigarette in the other. She became well-known locally for her interpretation of coladeras and mornas, the traditional songs of Cape Verde (heavily influenced by Portuguese music, since the islands used to be a Portuguese colony).

Her first international success was in 1988 with the release of her first commercial album La Diva Aux Pieds Nus, recorded in France. She eventually won a Grammy for World Music in 2003 for her album Voz d'Amor. She died in 2011.

The song I’ve selected is Sodade, the Cape Verde version of the Portuguese word saudade, which refers to a deep nostalgia or a profound melancholic longing (for something or someone unattainable).

PS: If you want to listen to more African divas, I recommend the late great Miriam Makeba from South Africa and Angélique Kidjo from Benin.

Enjoy! - Today in Tokyo (who lives in Tokyo but grew up in South Africa)