10 May 2010

Monday's mp3: Cesaria's Sodade

Cesaria Evora: Nha Sentimento (Lusafrica)
The warm tones of Cesaria Evora's newest album were streaming out of my car this afternoon, windows down, breeze whirling. I puzzled over just how I would explain the music of Evora's Cape Verde to someone who hadn't heard it yet. The islands that make up the country of Cape Verde lie off the coast of West Africa, but the music is a world apart. No djembes, no koras, no ngonis. On trade routes and controlled for many years by Portugal, the islands absorbed instruments and cultures from many lands, so I don't want to give the mistaken impression that one music sums up all. But what the heck: Cape Verdean music sounds like Portugeuse fado arranged by Hawaiians. It's at once full of smoke and bounce, midnight and sun. And there's more than a touch of Muslim music in the mix as well.
“The first slaves that were brought to Cape Verde were Muslim,” explains Evora's producer and manager José da Silva. “They brought a Middle Eastern singing form of music that you can still hear in the morna. Even in the Cape Verdean Creole language we find words from Arabic, like olim, which means ‘here I come.’ Sodade—the unachievable longing that is woven into the fabric of Cape Verdean music and culture—has a lot to do with Arabic and Andalusian influence. There was even a Jewish wave from the Middle East to Cape Verde’s three islands of Sao Nicolào, Santo Antào, and Fogo.  Tourists can still visit the synagogues, which are still standing. This is more evidence of the Middle Eastern influence on Cape Verde. We were looking for the right moment to put this aspect forward.”
This song is about fate, and the lyrics say in part
Don't lose your taste for life
Your fate in this world is to be happy
Don't let any chances slip
That's your innermost right
[mp3] Cesaria Evora: Fatalidade
from the album Nha Sentimento

Evora, who survived a stroke in 2008, was yesterday hospitalized again, and a planned tour (including stops in the USA with fellow Cape Verdean Lura) has been cancelled. We pray for her quick recovery and many more years of this beautiful music.
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