Friday, May 11, 2007

Andrew Gilbert interviews Lura.

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.

A duet they recorded was a minor hit, and the budding teenage singer suddenly started receiving requests from established figures such as Tito Paris, Paulinho Vieira and Angola's Bonga. She recorded her first album, "Nha Vida," in 1996, and made a splash when the title track was included on the 1997 AIDS benefit compilation "Onda Sonora: Red Hot \+ Lisbon," alongside pieces by stars such as Caetano Veloso, Djavan, Marisa Monte and k.d. lang.

Like a number of other young Cape Verdean singers, Lura is determined to spread awareness of styles beyond the lilting minor-key mornas and sprightly coladeras popularized by Evora. Lura has delved into accordion-based funana, a sensuous style long repressed by Cape Verde's Portuguese colonial administration before independence in 1975, and batuku, a rhythm that originated among groups of women beating folded stacks of clothes, accompanied by topical, often satirical improvised verses.

Her gorgeous third album, "Di Korpu Ku Alma" (Lusafrica, 2005), features five batukus, including her signature tunes "Na Ri Na" and "Vazulina," by Orlando Panteira, a gifted composer who died before he had a chance to release his own album. "Di Korpu" also features a separate DVD shot during a 2004 concert opening for Evora at Le Grand Rex in Paris, which captures Lura's infectious, youthful energy.

Her second U.S. release, "M'bem Di Fora (I Come From the Country)," came out in March on Times Square Records. It continues her exploration of her family's rural Cape Verdean roots, with a strong tinge of jazz and R&B.

"There's a new generation, and I'm just a piece of a puzzle," Lura says, speaking by phone from her home in Lisbon. "We sing and play traditional music from Cape Verde with influences from all over the world - soul, reggae, blues, samba." Read More

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