Cesaria Evora - Radio Mindelo

2009-06-09 07:54
Radio Mindelo
But it all started in Mindelo, Portuguese colony island of Cape Verde in the pre-independence early 1960s, with a craze for a very emotionally expressive varied-tempo music type called coledera, a variation on the traditional mourning songs of the region. Cesaria was the musical "godchild" of the then famous songwriter Ti Goy, who wrote at least 10 of the coladeras in this collection.

The songs collected here are the young Cesaria Evora's very first recordings, and were made in much the same way South Africa's first music radio legends' were, when stations needing new and popular local music to play recorded their own material. Radio Barlaventa did this "live" using only one microphone, achieving the correct "mix" simply by placing the backing musicians at different distances from the microphone - and with the simple arrangements of solo vocals, guitars and the hissing shake of a dried gourd for percussion, it worked pretty well.

The sound has its own charm, a slightly tinny timbre echoing old gramophones, through which Evoria's perfect and powerful 20-year-old voice laments, coaxes and protests in this important political period, singing words partly responsible for making her a cultural icon, although it would be many years before her fame took her music beyond the region of her birth and made her the queen of this mournful style, and about 15 years before Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal.

Liner notes provide history and anecdotes surrounding the music and the recordings. The only thing missing is translations/summaries of song lyrics for non-Portuguese speakers, which would have also helped differentiate the songs from one another and make them more meaningful. But despite this omission, Radio Mindelo is essential listening for Evoria fans and for all world music fans. A nostalgic classic.

Now an old lady, a living legend "rediscovered" by the international world music circuit in the 80s, Evora performs her famous "barefoot diva" sets live to worshiping, clapping-along audiences from Paris to New York and records her albums using top studio tech.

What to read next: Kalahari

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.