In Loving Memory of Cesaria Evora

To her friends she was Cize, to the world she was simply "The Barefoot Diva" and to me; she was my first connection with Capetown and introduction to African (cape verde) music beyond Mzansi's borders. Legendary singer was pronouced dead today in São Vicente, in her native Cape Verde, from cardiorespiratory insufficiency and hypertension.

On my very first trip to Capetown a friend of mine invited us to his parents' house in Strand. That's where I first heard of Cesaria Evora. Her music was new to me but I was taken by it. When I got back to Jozi I bought her CD and I have been a fan ever since. 

My Evora Cd

In September Cesaria's record label Lusafrica said the star, who had long-standing heart problems, was retiring after arriving in Paris "in a state of great weakness" and, was unable to complete a planned series of French concerts.

She was quoted as having said to her fans:


"I want you to tell my fans: 'Sorry, but now I have to rest', I very much regret having to go because of illness. I would have liked to give more pleasure to those who have followed me for so long."

Evora was known for the melancholy, blues-influenced "saudade" of her native Cape Verde since her twenties, but came to world fame late in life in 1992 after decades singing in the bars of Mindello, on the island of Sao Vicente.

Her third album Miss Perfumado, which came out that year, was a worldwide hit and in all she has produced 10 studio albums and an anthology of historic radio recordings while touring far from her Atlantic island home.

In 2008 she suffered a stroke after a concert in the Australian city of Melbourne and returned to her Paris base to recover, but still managed to record her latest album Nha Sentimento for release in 2009.

Her international career began in 1988 when, at 47 and after three decades of singing in bars in her remote, windswept African homeland, a young Frenchman invited her to Paris to record an album.

La diva aux pieds nus (The Barefoot Diva) became a hit with the Cape Verdean exile community, and her "coladera" which was catchier than the usual saudade and for dancing "Bia Luchera" became popular and catapulted her to stardom.

It was four years and two albums later that she became a breakthrough success internationally, selling out shows to Cape Verdean and French audiences alike. She is also credited for popularising the bluesy "morna" style.

For decades, the music press reveled in exotic tales of her African island life, growing up in poverty and acquiring a taste for cognac, smoking and wild nights out. Her diva persona was solidified by her insistence to perform barefoot with a cigarette on hand.


She gave up alcohol in 1994, but not smoking, and by 2005 she had been diagnosed with heart problems and begun a series of operations. After which she blamed her illness on Cape Verde fried potatoes known in her native country as "batatinhas".


Sadly today (17th December 2011) the world lost a true star, a legend - The Barefoot Diva!!

When I just want to relax and enjoy a beautiful day with a glass of wine, you are likely to hear, Besame Muchu, Tudo Tem Se Limeti, Cinturao Tem mele, among some of her tracks playing in my house.

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