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Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora

Cesária Évora is a Cape Verdean folk singer. Nicknamed the "barefoot diva" for her preference of performing without shoes,[1] Évora is perhaps the best internationally-known practicioner of morna — a local genre related to Angolan landu, Portuguese fado and Brazilian modinha, with a sensibility often compared to the blues.

Cesária Évora lost her father at the age of seven. After his death, Cesária's mother struggled to support her on meager earnings as a cook, eventually entrusting Cesária to the care of an orphanage. It was in the orphanage choir that Cesária first learned to sing.

At 16, Cesária met a Cape Verdean sailor named Eduardo who taught her the traditional Cape Verdean styles of music of coladeras and mornas. The mornas (which may be derived from the word mourn) are songs of sadness, sorrow and yearning. She began singing in local bars and hotels. With the help of local musicians, she would hone her skills and would later be proclaimed "Queen of Mornas" by her fans. She became famous in Cape Verde, but remained relatively unknown internationally.

In 1975, Cape Verde gained independence but its new leader Amilcar Cabral was assassinated during the turmoil that accompanied the end of five centuries of Portuguese rule. Évora was still popular at the time but her fame did not lead to financial success. Frustrated by personal and financial problems, compounded by the very difficult economic and political situation in Cape Verde, Évora gave up singing to support her family. She didn't perform for 10 years, which she describes as her "dark years."

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