For Cape Verdeans music is a very important part of their lives. They can not do without it. Everywhere you can hear music on the Cape Verde Islands. Cape Verde has different music styles. There is the Funaná and the Morna. The Funaná is swinging dance music, while the Morna is a melancholy musical style that is often sung in Cape Verdean Creole. The Morna is the national song of the soul and is the African version of the fado. The music is mostly influenced by Portugal, Brazil and Africa, since Cape Verde was once a center of the slave trade. The singer is accompanied by several musicians. The instruments are mostly violin, guitar, cavaquinho (4 string guitar), saxophone, piano and percussion. The Morna music style – also called the national music – is about loss, goodbye and returning to the homeland. Each Cape Verdean each island has its own type of Morna. The morna was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for Intangible Cultural Heritage at the end of 2019.
It is especially folk singer Cesária Évora (born: August 27, 1941) of the Cape Verde island Sao Vicente who made the morna also known abroad. With her warm, clear voice she has charmed many. She started singing in bars, was discovered and then song from her 47th year in major world theatres. She sang without much show. The emotion was in her voice. She was accompanied by a fantastic good band. Especially the violin, saxophone and cavaquino were phenomenal. Cesária Évora always performed barefoot and was therefore also called the barefooted diva. Cesária Évora died in 2011.
Queen of the Morna
Cesária Évora was known as the queen of the Morna and her international breakthrough came in 1992 with the album Miss Perfumado. She won the Kora African Music Awards in three major categories in 1997. And in 2003 she even won the most important music award in the world, a Grammy Award for ‘Best Contemporary World Music Album’. She received this award for the album Voz d’Amor. In 2009 Cesária Évora was honoured in France by President Sarkozy with the medal of the Legion d’ Honneur.
Cesária Évora has sung many songs in her long career. Famous songs include ‘Sodade’,
‘Angola’, ‘Sangue the Beirona’ and ‘Tchintchirote’. One of her most beautiful songs ‘Sodade’ describes the deep feeling of homesickness, loneliness, sadness, but also happiness and hope. In the video below (turn on sound) you can enjoy a live performance of ‘Sodade’.
The song ‘Angola’ was released on the album Miss Perfumado (1992) and is a fovourite of many music lovers. Listen to this swinging song in the video below (audio only).
What is your favorite song of Cesária Evora? And what do you think of her famous albums ‘Miss Perfumado’, ‘Cesaria’, ‘Cape Verde’ and ‘Café Atlantico’?
This article is written by W.L.M. van Maaren, MSc. Lover of the music of Cesária Evora.