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.
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.
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.