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Césaria Evora

 B i o g r a p h y

Her music is Coladeras and Mornas, European sounding styles whose roots date back to the 1800s, when Cape Verde's port was an important halfway station for Atlantic trading.Musical influences have dribbled in from all corners of the globe, but the most dominant are those of the former colonials Portugal, Angola and Brazil.The Cape Verde Islands have been stamped by an ever-changing population. When the Portuguese arrived in the islands and took control in 1460 there were no permanent residents.Lying out in the Atlantic Ocean, about 350 miles off the coast of West Africa, meant the 12 islands were well placed to become supply bases for sailing ships.Bit by bit the plantations were built up, worked by slaves. Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony for 400 years in all. The Islands' inhabitants are descendents of Portuguese and slaves. "My songs are about loss and longing, love, politics, immigration - and reality. We sing about our land; about the sun; the rain that never comes; about poverty and problems; how the people on Cape Verde live," says Cesaria Evora.

Cesaria Evora's main strength as a vocalist is the authority with which she sings. She is first and foremost an interpreter of others' lyrics and melodies, including her uncle's. She sings straight, without vibrato. She pronounces the lyrics, in Creole, with a distant ease that is never overdone. Her many, often bitter, experiences can be heard in a voice that indicates a life lived. Cesaria Evora has been married three times and deserted three times. In her expression she reminds one of Billie Holiday or Edith Piaf, but does not like to be compared with them. "Each singer has her own expression," says Cesaria, who has been called "the barefoot diva" because she simply prefers to perform without shoes. Cesaria Evora is loyal to Cape Verde. Despite having become an international Artist who tours the world she continues to reside in her hometown, Mindelo, on the island of Sao Vicente. It was there she lay the foundations of her incredible career. For many years she performed in Mindelo's bars, starting at the age of 16. She began singing with a group in which her boyfriend played - and stayed. Life as a bar singer was tough, like life in Cape Verde. After many years performing in dives, she tired of being a singer. For a decade, between 1975 and 1985, she didn't perform at all. In 1988 she met producer Jose da Silva, a native of Cape Verdi who grew up in Dakar and Paris.Da Silva made it his mission to make a star out of Cesaria Evora. He let her perform for the Cape Verde's exile community in Paris. Jose da Silva established the Lusafrica record company in 1988 and that same year Evora made her debut album, "La Diva Aux Pieds Nus", in Lisbon. With "Miss Perfumado" in 1992 her career took off at speed.This was her springboard into the international world of music."Miss Perfumado" sold more than 500,000 copies and earned her five gold records. In all, Cesaria Evora has released 8 original albums and won many prizes - one from UNESCO - as a leading African singer. She has also been nominated three times for an American Grammy award.

 A l b u m s

Cabo Verde (Lusafrica, 1997)
Latin Collection 2000 (Bob's Rec., 2000)