Cesária Évora is prob­a­bly the on­ly per­son you’ve ev­er heard of (now that you’ve heard of her) from Cabo Verde, which is an is­land group 570km west of Africa’s west­ern­most point. She was a re­al­ly great singer and record­ed lots of fine col­lec­tions of mu­sic. It’s hard to pick from among them, but So­dade is a fine ex­am­ple.

Cesária Évora

I don’t know much about Ms Évora or about Cabo Verde ei­ther. Miss Per­fuma­do, from which So­dade comes, is prob­a­bly her best-known work. All of the songs on it are good, and in fact ev­ery­thing I’ve ev­er heard from her is pleas­ing to the ear. There’s not a lot of change in in­ten­si­ty or sound from one song to the nex­t, which is not a prob­lem. Her mu­sic re­al­ly comes alive on my big ex­pen­sive stero, lay­ers of rhythm and melody shift­ing around be­hind her voice, with lots of beau­ti­ful room be­tween the notes.

I nev­er saw her live, but pe­rus­ing videos re­veals that she liked to per­form with a big band, most­ly plucked strings of one kind or an­oth­er. The videos re­veal an­oth­er thing; she loved the stage. I poked around the web but couldn’t find any pic­tures of her with the big goofy ma­ter­nal grin that her au­di­ences got at the top of the show.

Wikipedia says that So­dade is “a Capeverdean slow co­ladeira song writ­ten in the 1950s by Ar­man­do Ze­feri­no Soares.” It’s an exile’s song, the kind of thing they play in a lit­tle coun­try that many have to leave to make a go of it.

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This song on Spo­ti­fy, Ama­zon, iTunes. Live video. If you type Ce­saria Evo­ra live in­to YouTube, you’ll find a lot of full con­cert­s, and pret­ty well any o them will im­prove any room it’s played in.

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February 07, 2018
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