Friday, March 23, 2007


If there were any doubts about the younger woman's potential, they are swept away by her album M'bem di Fora ("I've Come From Far Away"), a recording as satisfying in its way as any of the grande dame's recent releases. The fact that Lura was not born in the islands does nothing to undermine her claim to carry on the tradition. Marooned off the coast of Senegal, the archipelago is, after all, a land that has spawned its own diaspora: more Cape Verdeans live abroad than on the islands themselves. For all the recent excitement over an explosion in tourism, their country has traditionally been a land of modest resources, where drought and poverty are part of the natural order. Exile has become a way of life. Yet, thanks to its historic role as a way-station on the nautical routes between Africa, Europe and South America, Cape Verde has nurtured a strikingly rich Creole culture, blending the fatalism of fado with the delicacy of Brazilian samba and the rhythmic intensity of West African pop.

Evora arrived late on the international stage. While Lura's ascent may not have been quite as leisurely, there is no question that it has taken her a long time to find her true voice. Her first record, released a decade ago, was dominated by youth-oriented zouk rhythms and echoes of glossy American R&B. It was not until 2004 that she released what she regards as her first "authentic" Cape Verdean album, Di Korpu Ku Alma ("Of Body and Soul"). It was, she says, a conversation with the famously laconic Evora, with whom she had been working as a backing singer, that helped her to find the right path: "Cesaria doesn't talk much," Lura explains, laughing. "When I recorded my album In Love [in 2002], I sang in English and Portuguese, and did some R&B and soul. So I asked her: 'Do you like this album?' And she said: 'I don't have to like your album. You have to like it.' And she told me I had to sing the music that I felt. They were such simple words, but it was like a door opening. That was when I realised my music is the music of Cape Verde."
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