Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Cesária Evora a.k.a. Cize, is an internationally renowned singer from Cape Verde. Cesária was born on August 27th, 1941 in Mindelo, São Vicente Island, Cape Verde. Cesária's love affair with music began at early age. Her late father, Justino da Cruz Evora, played cavaquinho (a small four-stringed guitar), guitar and violin. Among her fathers friends was B. Leza, Cape Verde's favourite composer. Cesária was seven when her father passed away. Cesária used to sing from the bandstand on the main square accompanied by her borther Lela on the saxophone. At a young age Cesária went to stay with her grandmother. She was educated by nuns an experience she has no fond memories of as she claims that it made her 'despise all moral structures.'

Cesária later met a Cape Verdean musician Eduardo who is claimed to have helped her sing on Radio Mindelo. Her reputation soon spread through out the neighbouring islands. She sang traditional Cape Verdean music style referred to as Coladeira and Mornas which are songs of sadness, sorrow and yearning.

Cesária the “barefoot diva” prefers to perform without shoes

In 1975, Cape Verde attained Independence and Cesária stopped performing in public, sinking into a prolonged bout of depression made worse by excessive drinking. This silence lasted about ten years. They say that she wandered naked and wild through the streets of Mindelo in the grip of a "feitiço" (an evil spell). Cape Verdean musicians despised her because of her extremely low social standing.

While she was singing at a restaurant in Lisbon Portugal to make money for her return ticket home, she met José da Silva who become her mentor and official producer. José fell in love with Cesária’s magnificent voice, and he invited to come and make a record in Paris. Cesária was 47 then and had nothing to lose and, never having been to Paris, she agreed. In Paris she recorded the album La diva aux pieds nus (The barefoot diva) which was released in 1988.

Cesária was again hopping from bar to bar, making a little money here and there. Being responsible for her two children and her mother whose sight was failing, she had to earn a living for family which at the time lived in a dilapidated house in Mindelo.

"... in all those years when I sang in bars and in front of strangers I sometimes had an idea I might someday be successful outside my country. The thought never stayed with me for very long, but here I am."
Source: Africanmusic.org

Cesária returned again to France in 1991 to record a new album Mar Azul, which was immediately play-listed on the FIP and France Inter radio stations.

Miss Perfumado album was released in 1992. With more than 300,000 copies sold to date in France, many see it as Cesária’s masterpiece. The album was released in the USA in 1999 and was nominated for the coveted Grammy Awards. Her music has garnered a total of six Grammy nominations. Cesária's won a Grammy award for her album Voz d'Amor in 2004 for Best Contemporary World Music Album.

“So I began singing again for good […] I don't believe in dreams or fate […] What delights me today is the happiness of having got through all the years of suffering to better enjoy the life I live now. At home, we say it's better to drink the venom first and the honey later. Now, I'm drinking the honey.”


Cabo Verde


Jacek Jaglowski has an awesome series of Cesária photos click here for more


Cesária Evora Official Website

Cesária Evora on Myspace