Cesaria Evora is unstoppable!
She’s an international star who started singing in an orphanage, overcame poverty, lived through a revolution and transcended disillusionment.
In her career spanning over 45 years, she has triumphed, become a national treasure and put her island on the world map.
During her Australian tour in 2008, she had a stroke – but once again invincible, this beloved Cape Verdean vocalist has risen with the release of her brand new album, “Nha Sentimento [My Feelings]”.
With her longtime producer [head of Lusafrica label] José da Silva still at the helm, she continues crossing musical borders and expanding through cultural interchange.
Having previously recorded with Cuban musicians, then with Brazilians, she returned to the continent, involving African artists.on her last release, “Rogamar”.
This time the inspiration is Arabic music, and the collaborator is Fathy Salama, the former conductor of the Cairo Orchestra.
As a longtime admirer of her work, he added a new element by including Egyptian instrumentalists on luxurious arrangements that enhance the richness of her evocative voice.
She also moves away from the morna, the traditional style she has made famous, and which has become synonymous with her soulful vocal style.
While featuring three tracks in this slower form, “Nha Sentimento” instead concentrates on more up-tempo coladera rhythms; and considering her health, she sounds livelier than before.
Cape Verde is a crossroads of cultures, so its music is diverse, and while deep African elements permeate, it has a new-world feel, with Latin scales and modern instrumentation.
Here, this sound is juxtaposed with the unusual accompaniment of an Egyptian orchestra, with it’s polyrhythmic percussion, reed pipes, layered strings, and kanoon (Arabic zither).
The result is an unexpectedly natural marriage of jazz, classical and African elements, in hybrid arrangements that sound both Egyptian and Cape Verdean; that at first one hardly discerns the crossover. However, on the only three mornas on the album, there’s a distinct dialogue.
The call-and-response style of ‘Sentimento’ sees Cesaria’s vocals accompanied, by a wailing Egyptian flute; and while ‘Vento de Sueste’ and ‘Mam’Bia É So Mi’ are also enhanced by the orchestra, their melancholy is magnified by the string section.
As intimate, but at the other end of the spectrum, are the catchy coladeras, like the irresistible “Zinha” – an upbeat song of encouragement offered with carefree abandonment and informal warmth.
“Ligereza,” with its Latin touch is simply charming – recorded in Bogotá it features the accordion of Colombian Henry Ortiz; and the Malagasy accordionist Régis Gizavo adds a subtle sadness to ‘Esperança di Mar Azul’ – a song full of hope.
Whether celebrating her homeland, or addressing issues like underage pregnancy, it’s clear that Cesaria sings of her own feelings and experiences.
On “Nha Sentimento” her emotional authenticity is lifted with the light-hearted wisdom of age, as she celebrates the struggles and successes of a life well-lived.