Cesaria Evora, Barefoot Diva and Voice of Cape Verde, 1941-2011

 The "Barefoot Diva<" has died.

Cesaria Evora, who started singing as a teenager in the bayside bars of Cape Verde in the 1950s and won a Grammy in 2003 after she took her African islands music to stages across the world, died Saturday. She was 70.


A voice of the developing world has gone silent.

She sang the traditional music of the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa, a former Portuguese colony. She mostly sang in the version of creole spoken there, but even audiences who couldn't understand the lyrics were moved by her stirring renditions, her unpretentious manner and the music's infectious beat.
Her singing style brought comparisons to American jazz singer Billie Holiday. "She belongs to the aristocracy of bar singers," French newspaper Le Monde said in 1991, adding that Evora had "a voice to melt the soul."


 The press release from Lusafrica, the Parisian label that began releasing Evora's album in 1988, when she was 47 years old: 

Cesaria Evora, the Cape Verdean singer, also known as “the barefoot diva,” passed away on Saturday, December 17th (at 11:45 am local time) at Baptista de Sousa hospital in Mindelo Cape Verde, as announced by Cape Verdean minister of culture Mario Lucio Sousa.

The world famous singer died at 70 on her native island of Sao Vicente about three months after retiring from the stage. She had been suffering health issues for a while and had had a few surgeries over the past few years, including an open-heart operation in May 2010.

“I don’t have the strength, the energy anymore. I want you to tell my fans that I’m sorry but I have to rest now. I am sorry I have to retire because of health issues. I wish I could have given pleasure to those who follow me for much more time” she had told French newspaper Le Monde when she announced her retirement last September 23rd.

She was in good shape on stage at the Parisian venue Grand Rex in April 2011 but her unhealthy heart, which had failed several times, forced her to give up her main addiction, which was touring.

“Life goes on. I came to you, I tried my best and I had a career that many would dream of,” she had told Véronique Mortaigne from Le Monde.

The Cape Verdean government declared 48 hours of national mourning to the singer. President Jorge Carlos Fonseca said she was “one of the main references of Cape Verdean culture.” Cesaria Evora will be buried Tuesday in Mindelo. 


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