Ok, I’m cheating here: Cesária Évora is not Brazilian by any stretch of the imagination. But I just found out that she died on December 17th, a few weeks ago (I wonder how I hadn’t heard about it before), and felt I just had to have a post on her. Cesária Évora was from Cape Verde, and without a doubt one of the greatest African singers of all times. She sung mostly in Cape Verdean Portuguese, which is really more of a dialect (it’s damn hard to understand what she sings!), but had close ties with Brazilian music and Brazilian musicians. This is why it is not too crazy to have a column on her here at BMoF.
For those who haven’t listened to Cesária’s music yet, you have no idea what you are missing. She has one of the most expressive voices I’ve ever heard; the beauty of her singing transcends the boundaries of (already beautiful) Cape Verdean music. I was lucky enough to see her live in São Paulo many years ago (1996, I think), and keep very vivid memories of that concert. I’ve followed her career since, and in particular her 2001 album São Vicente di Longe was a bit hit in my cd-player.
To keep a bit with the theme of the column, I’ll post two Brazilian songs sung by her: ‘Negue’, a classic of heart-break Brazilian music, and ‘É doce morrer no mar’, composition of the master Dorival Caymmi, in a duet with Brazilian singer Marisa Monte. But let me also post her duet with Salif Keita, ‘Yamore’, which is probably on my top 5 of best songs of all times and all places, and ‘Sodade’, one of her first classics. ‘Sodade’ is the Cape Verdean spelling for ‘saudade’, a Portuguese word reputed to be of difficult translation; it means ‘longing’, nostalgia. If you want to say you miss somebody or something, or a place, you say you have saudade of…