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August Feature: Cesaria Evora

Throughout August Global Village features music from the ‘Barefoot Diva’ of Cape Verde, Cesaria Evora, in honor of what would have been her 72nd birthday this month. Listen for breakthrough recordings she made in the 1980s up to her final posthumous album.

Cesaria Evora became the international ambassador for the music of the islands that make up Cape Verde, but her stardom was unlikely and came very slowly. She grew up in poor circumstances and was left in an orphanage after her father died when she was seven. She started singing while still in her teens and even made some tapes at a Cape Verdean radio station, but success eluded her and she left music behind for over a decade.

The breakthrough came when she met French producer Jose da Silva. She released her first album, La Diva aux Pieds Nus (which gave her the title of "Barefoot Diva") in 1988 and several more albums followed before her 1992 hit, Miss Perfumado, with its classic song, "Sodade."

Evora live with her classic "Sodade":

Evora found ever widening circles of success, first in Paris, then across Europe, and finally around the world, including in the United States, which she first toured in 1995. She became known for her spare, but elegant interpretation of mourna, a beautiful music that is often described as Cape Verde's blues, as well as her unaffected, but deeply moving performing style.

Evora toured the world, released a string of well-received albums (with an impressive list of international guest stars) and influenced a new generation of singers who would take up this traditional Cape Verdean music in her wake. The 1995 release, Cesaria, was nominated for a Grammy, as was Cabo Verde. She finally won a Grammy in 2003 for Best Contemporary World Music album with Voz d'Amor. As she continued recording, she expanded her style to incorporate Cuban, Brazilian, and on her final album, Nha Sentimento, Arabic influences into her music.

Evora live with her interpretation of "Besame Mucho":

Evora passed away December, 2011 at the age of 70. A posthumous release, Mae Carinhosa (Mother Tenderness), featuring previously unreleased songs pulled together by her longtime producer and friend Jose da Silva, came out in the spring of 2013.

Throughout the month, Global Village features the music of Cesaria Evora, along with some of the other artists inspired by her to perform the music of Cape Verde. Get daily feature and program updates, along with world music news, music videos, new release information, playlists and more on the Global Village Facebook Page.