Thursday, August 09, 2007

Cesária Évora - Interview

Jonathan Alley interviews Cesária Évora.
Cesaria Evora's name is synonymous with the ocean. A native of the former Portuguese colony of Cape Verde (off Senegal), she is the world's leading exponent of "morna", a melancholic but celebratory folk music arising from a mix of tango rhythms, British sea shanties and Angolan laments.

Evora is an unlikely star, but a bona fide international drawcard all the same. Known as the barefoot diva because of her insistence on appearing sans footwear, Evora has stridently remained herself through the peaks and valleys of her journey to success.

She began musical life singing in her local Catholic church aged 10. She had no professional aspirations until she chanced upon an attractive young guitarist and ensured she joined his band, aged 16 - proving once and for all that a mix of music and hormones transcends national boundaries.

"It was the same kind of music I still sing: it's the music of Cape Verde - morna and coladeira," she says, referring to the lighter, more playful form with distinctly more flirtatious rhythms.

Featuring a noteworthy collaboration with Senegalese singing sensation Ismael Lo on Africa Nossa, Evora's new album (her 10th) is titled Rogamar, which loosely translates as "praise the sea". Maritime imagery is central to her music.

"Cape Verde is an island. The music of Cape Verde has many influences. I sang for many foreign people in my country. During those years from 1950-60 there were many foreign ships in our ports, and people liked my music," she says.

"They compared it to blues and fado. In Cape Verde we have a mix of cultures. The sea is around Cape Verde. You see the sea wherever you go. The sea sees us! The sea is the way people come and go from the country."
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