Monday, December 04, 2006

Lura - Cape Verde

Cape Verde hardly seems well positioned to elbow its way into the highly contested world music marketplace. Made up of 10 main islands off the coast of Senegal, it is barely larger in size than Rhode Island. Cape Verde's population is about 420,000 (though the country's endemic poverty has resulted in a far-flung diaspora of another half a million people).

Cesaria Evora's rise to prominence in the late 1980s put the West African nation on the international musical map, and outside the Lusofone (Portugese-speaking) world she has continued to reign as the sole voice of the nation. But with a confluence of influences from Portugal, Brazil, and West Africa nurturing a musical culture as rich as the islands are barren, a new generation of Cape Verdean singers is coming to the fore.

Sara Tavares , Fantcha , Maria de Barros , Gardenia Benrós , and Maria Alice have all released impressive albums with distribution in the United States and Europe. None, however, is better placed to step onto the world stage than Lura , who returns to the Berklee Performance Center on Saturday for a reprise of her triumphant September 2005 debut.

"Cesaria is like our mother," says Lura, 31, who was featured on an extensive 2001 European tour, Cesaria & Friends. "She makes Cape Verdean culture known all over the world. She does it very seriously, and I learned a lot with her. I learned where my place is in music from Cape Verde and what I have to do."

Delivering contemporary songs in Cape Verdean Crioulo with her deep, sultry contralto, Lura is a captivating performer steeped in traditional styles but interested in a vast range of sounds. Born and raised in Lisbon, she started her career as a dancer, but realized she had a gift for singing when Cape Verdean-born zouk star Juka recruited her to record with him. The duet was a minor hit, and the teenage budding singer suddenly started receiving requests from established figures such as Tito Paris, Paulinho Vieira , and Angola's Bonga.
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