Her music is Coladeras and Mornas, European sounding styles whose roots date back to the 1800s, when Cape Verde’s port was an important halfway station for Atlantic trading. Musical influences have dribbled in from all corners of the globe, but the most dominant are those of the former colonials Portugal, Angola and Brazil.
The Cape Verde Islands have been stamped by an ever-changing population. When the Portuguese arrived in the islands and took control in 1460 there were no permanent residents. Lying out in the Atlantic Ocean, about 350 miles off the coast of West Africa, meant the 12 islands were well placed to become supply bases for sailing ships. Bit by bit the plantations were built up, worked by slaves. Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony for 400 years in all. The Islands’ inhabitants are descendents of Portuguese and slaves.
“My songs are about loss and longing, love, politics, immigration – and reality. We sing about our land; about the sun; the rain that never comes; about poverty and problems; how the people on Cape Verde live,” says Cesaria Evora.
Cesaria Evora’s main strength as a vocalist is the authority with which she sings. She sings straight, without vibrato. She pronounces the lyrics, in Creole, with a distant ease that is never overdone. Her many, often bitter, experiences can be heard in a voice that indicates a life lived. Cesaria Evora has been married three times and deserted three times. Cesaria Evora is loyal to Cape Verde.