Cesária Évora

Have you ever been blown away by a song done in a language that you can neither speak or understand? That is what I call true talent.

Cesária Évora – Cize to her friends – was born on the 27th August 1941 in Mindelo, Cape Verde. Her bright voice and physical charms were soon noticed, but her hope of a singing career remained unsatisfied. A Cape Verdean women’s group and the singer Bana both took her to Lisbon to cut a few tracks, but the recordings failed to catch the ear of a producer. In 1988, a young Frenchman of Cape Verdean extraction invited her to Paris to make a record. At 47, she had nothing to lose. Having never seen Paris, she agreed.

1988: Her first album is released: La Diva Aux Pieds Nus (The Barefoot Diva) produced by Lusafrica. The zouk-flavoured coladera “Bia Lulucha” is a hit with the Cape Verdean community. She gives a first concert in Paris to a small crowd at the New Morning on the 1st October.

1990: Distino di Belita, her second album, includes acoustic mornas and electric coladeras. Its release is very low-key and her label decides to try a different tack, recording a purely acoustic record.

1991: Évora is in France to record her first acoustic album. Accompanied by the Mindel Band, she performs at the Angoulême Festival on the 2nd June and at the Paris New Morning on the 7th. While theParis concert only draws a small number of Cape Verdean fans, the concert in Angoulême attracts interest from the specialised press (a first article in the Libération daily newspaper). Her Mar Azul album is released at the end of October, word spreads and FM radio FIP play-lists the record. A new concert is organised for the 14th December at the New Morning. Her performance stuns the now mainly European audience in the packed theatre. Véronique Mortaigne writes in the Le Mondedaily: “Cesária Évora, a lively fifty-year-old, sings morna with mischievous devotion… (she) belongs to the world nobility of bar singers”. The legend has begun to take shape.

1992: With Mar Azul, media excitement grows and radio stations such as France Inter play-list the track. Évora performs at the Nîmes Feria on the 7th June and Miss Perfumado is released inFrance in October. The press compares Évora to Billie Holliday. Critics enthuse over the sweetness of her voice and provide many details that fuel her legend: Évora’s extravagant taste for cognac and tobacco, her hard life on Cape Verde’s forgotten islands, the warm nights of Mindelo… Concerts at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris on the 11 and 12 December are sold out a month in advance. Her first Brussels concert is at the Botanique (7 December).

1993: Miss Perfumado is a smash hit in France (more than 300,000 copies sold to date). Évora performs for the first time in Lisbon at the Teatro São Luis (25 May) and the police are forced to hold back a crowd of fans who cannot get into the hall. Two full houses at the Paris Olympia on the 12 and 13 June complete her triumph in France (the show is recorded and a “Live” album released on Parisian label Mélodie in 1996). She begins to tour the world: Barcelona (21 June), in Montreal in the Spectrum (14 July), Japan (end of October) and France (30 concerts at the end of 1993).

1994: Concerts in São Paulo (May). Caetano Veloso performs on stage with Évora and announces that she has a place among the great female singers who have inspired him. Spain,Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Africa, the West Indies… Évora is a stage phenomenon. Her Lusafrica label sign her to BMG and the record company releases a compilation entitled “Sodade, les plus belles Mornas de Cesaria” (Sodade, Cesaria’s finest mornas) in the autumn. Évora gives up drinking, but not smoking.

1995: The album Cesária (gold in France) is released in twenty countries including the USA (200,000 copies sold to date). The album is nominated for the Grammy Awards. Évora appears for 10 days at the Bataclan in Paris and goes on her first tour of North America. Madonna, David Byrne, Branford Marsalis and New York society flock to see her at the Bottom Line. Goran Bregovic asks her to record the song “Ausencia” for the original soundtrack of Emir Kusturica’s film “Underground”.

1996: A year of tours: France (40 concerts), Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil, Germany (11 concerts), Hong Kong, Italy, Sweden, the USA and Canada (30 concerts), Senegal, the Ivory Coast and her first (sell-out) concert in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. She sings a duet with Caetano Veloso on the album “Red Hot + Rio”. The Arte TV channel devotes a documentary to her. Paulino Vieira (who co-produced the two albums “Miss Perfumado” and “Cesária” ) leaves the group and is replaced by the young, talented guitarist Rufino Almeida, known as Bau.

1997: Release of the album Cabo Verde. Concerts programmed at the Olympia in March and a world tour including her third tour of the USA. The album “Cabo Verde“ is also nominated for theGrammy Awards. She won KORA All African Music Awards in three categories: Best Artist of West Africa, Best Album and Merit of the Jury.[2]

1998: Évora is on the road again accompanied by Jacinto Pereira (cavaquinho), José Paris (bass), Luis Ramos (guitars), Nando Andrade (piano), Totinho (saxophones and percussion) and Bau (guitars, cavaquinho, violin, band leader). From Greece to Japan, Israel to Portugal and the West Indies to Lebanon, Évora travels the world in 1998, but still finds time to record material for an album whose release is planned for April 1999. Before then, at the end of October, BMG releases the first “Best of Cesária Évora”, which includes all her fans’ favourite songs, as well as “Besame Mucho” (sung in Spanish), recorded the previous year for the original soundtrack of the film “Great Expectations”. In France, this “Best of” is certified gold three months later in January.

1999: The year 1999 begins with a Grammy nomination for the album Miss Perfumado (released in France in 1992, it only came out in the USA in 1998). The new album, entitled Café Atlantico, is released in France (300,000 copies to date), then worldwide in May. In March, Évora begins a world tour in Greece and again performs in North America in September and October. On stage, the band is enlarged to reflect the festive feel of the new repertoire: 12 musicians (including a violin section) are now led by pianist Nando Andrade. The tour ends in São Salvador,Brazil, just after a series of four concerts given at the Paris Olympia from the 7th to the 10th December. There, Évora receives several gold records presented by different BMG subsidiaries.

2000: Café Atlantico is nominated for the Grammy Awards and Évora wins a French Victoires de la Musique award in the “Best World Album” category, just before taking to the road again in April for her first major Latin American tour of Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. After Scandinavia in May, she sets out on another tour (of festivals) in the USA and Europe.

2001: São Vicente di Longe, Cesária Évora’s 8th studio album is recorded in Paris, La Havana and Rio de Janeiro. Nearly sixty musicians, arrangers and sound engineers work on the project in an environment that bears absolutely no resemblance to the conditions the singer recorded in at the start of her studio career. The album is as strikingly successful as “Café Atlantico”. It is also nominated for the Grammy Awards in the USA and the Victoires de la Musique in France. Évora is still on the road: 120 concerts in 2001 alone, including the Paris Zénith with around twenty Cape Verdean artists.

2002: A new major tour is planned that will take Évora to the five continents, with – for the first time – a series of concerts in Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary), as well as Singapore, Tahiti and Nouméa. On the 20th June, BMG publishes an “Anthology”, compiling live audience favourites and a new version of “Sodade” sung in a duet with Bonga, the greatest vocal artist in Angolan music and one of Cesaria’s oldest friends.

2003: begins with 3 concerts in Hong-Kong (1, 2 and 3 March). This new world tour includes Spain, Romania, Mexico, among other countries, together with a huge North American tour, including 40 cities east to West. On June 17, BMG releases “Club Sodade”, a project bringing together 10 of the Diva’s best songs, revisited by some of the most creative DJ’s of the house scene: Carl Craig, Kerri Chandler, Pepe Bradock, Señor Coconut, Francois K., and many others… This release is a prelude to Évora’s new studio album, entitled “Voz d’Amor”, published by BMG internationally in September 2003, and highly acclaimed by the press worldwide.

2004: Voz d’Amor is awarded in the beginning of 2004, in the « Best World Music Album » category, by both a Grammy Awards (in the US) and a Victoires de la Musique (in France). The year 2004 is a very European year for Évora: she gives 82 concerts in 24 different European countries. Amongst them 5 sold out shows in Paris’ Le Grand Rex. This series of concert is filmed for a DVD, that is released on the following October.

2005: Évora begins the year 2005 with a tour which brings her from the Baltic States to South Africa. Due to a surgical operation she has to interrupt the tour in May, just before several shows planned in the United States and Canada. Fortunately, this interruption is quite short. In September, Évora returns to the studios to record her new album, and goes back on a tour from Siberia(4 shows in October) to Brazil.

2006: Rogamar, Évora’s tenth album is released on March 6. Fifteen tracks, including a duet with Ismaël Lô on “Africa Nossa”, make this album sound like a link between Africa, Europe andBrazil. Évora begins a new tour in North America (Mexico, U.S.A. and Canada) before playing in Paris at Le Grand Rex and at some of major European festivals.

2007: Évora begins her 2007 tour in Hungary with a show in Debrecen and two others in Budapest on April 6, 7 and 8th before performing in Russia in Saint Petersburg, Moscow andYekaterinburg in front of a won over audience. Her success in the former eastern block does not decrease but unfortunately that series of concerts is put to an end and her tour in the US scheduled for June and July cancelled. The doctors have diagnosed a coronary problem and decide to have Évora operated. She only hits the road again at the end of the year with a series of shows in Russia.

2008: The new tour starts in Australia. But suffering from a stroke after her Melbourne concert, Évora is admitted at the hospital and is repatriated to Paris for further examination. The tour is cancelled and Évora is obligated to rest for several months. Lusafrica takes advantage of that quiet period to release the recordings Évora had done for various local radio stations of Mindelowhen she was in her twenties back in the early 1960s. Released in November, the “Radio Mindelo” album comes with a richly illustrated book with pictures and documents of the time. These 22 tracks, mostly exclusive, delight the fans, helping them wait for a new studio album.

2009: Évora is doing much better and gets back onstage but she needs to take it easy so her public appearances become less frequent than in the past. Her new album Nha Sentimento is scheduled for October 26. Recorded between February and May 2009 in Mindelo and Paris, it includes 14 tracks mainly written by her two fetish authors Manuel de Novas and Teofilo Chantre.

2010: In 2010, Cesaria Evora did amazing series of concerts. Last of which was in Lisbon – on May 8th. On May 10, after heart attack, Cesaria was operated at a hospital in Paris – an open heart operation. In May 11 in the morning she was separated from the artificial pulmonary ventilation, and on May 16, Cesaria was discharged from the Intensive Unit and translated in the clinic for further treatment.

(This information was got from Wikipedia, and edited by arthurscount, a round of applause to the wiki team).

For those who know me personally and might be interested in listening to her music, I’ll be glad to give it to you at no cost. If you don’t know me but you want her music, please be kind and buy a few CDs or LPs, or if you are a cheap bastard you can download it for free at: http://www.mp3raid.com/music/cesaria_evora.html

Let’s all pray for her good health.




~ by arthurscount on July 22, 2010.

One Response to “Cesária Évora”

  1. My partner and I received a huge amount of pleasure from the blog post. I’m certain that the following quote will get your interest. – “Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.” ~ Thomas Fuller (1608 – 1661)

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