Cesária Évora (Portuguese pronunciation: [sɨˈzaɾiɐ ˈɛvuɾɐ]; born 27 August 1941) is a Cape Verdean popular singer. Nicknamed the "barefoot diva" for performing without shoes, Évora is perhaps the best internationally known practitioner of "morna."
Her bright voice and physical charms were soon noticed, but her hope of a singing career remained unsatisfied. A Cape Verdean women’s group and the singer Bana both took her to Lisbon to cut a few tracks, but the recordings failed to catch the ear of a producer. In 1988, a young Frenchman of Cape Verdean extraction invited her to Paris to make a record. At 47, she had nothing to lose. Having never seen Paris, she agreed.
1988: Her first album is released: La Diva Aux Pieds Nus (The Barefoot Diva) produced by Lusafrica. The zouk-flavoured coladera “Bia Lulucha” is a hit with the Cape Verdean community. She gives a first concert in Paris to a small crowd at the New Morning on the 1st October.
1990: Distino di Belita, her second album, includes acoustic mornas and electric coladeras. Its release is very low-key and her label decides to try a different tack, recording a purely acoustic record.
1991: Évora is in France to record her first acoustic album. Accompanied by the Mindel Band, she performs at the Angoulême Festival on the 2nd June and at the Paris New Morning on the 7th. While the Paris concert only draws a small number of Cape Verdean fans, the concert in Angoulême attracts interest from the specialised press (a first article in the Libération daily newspaper). Her Mar Azul album is released at the end of October, word spreads and FM radio FIP play-lists the record. A new concert is organised for the 14th December at the New Morning. Her performance stuns the now mainly European audience in the packed theatre. Véronique Mortaigne writes in the Le Monde daily: “Cesária Évora, a lively fifty-year-old, sings morna with mischievous devotion... (she) belongs to the world nobility of bar singers”.
1993: Miss Perfumado is a smash hit in France (more than 300,000 copies sold to date).
1994: Concerts in São Paulo (May). Caetano Veloso performs on stage with Évora and announces that she has a place among the great female singers who have inspired him.
Her Lusafrica label sign her to BMG and the record company releases a compilation entitled “Sodade, les plus belles Mornas de Cesaria” (Sodade, Cesaria’s finest mornas) in the autumn.
1995: The album Cesária (gold in France) is released in twenty countries including the USA (200,000 copies sold to date).
1997: Release of the album Cabo Verde. The album “Cabo Verde“ is also nominated for the Grammy Awards. She won KORA All African Music Awards in three categories: Best Artist of West Africa, Best Album and Merit of the Jury.
1999: The year 1999 begins with a Grammy nomination for the album Miss Perfumado (released in France in 1992, it only came out in the USA in 1998). The new album, entitled Café Atlantico, is released in France (300,000 copies to date), then worldwide in May.
2000: Café Atlantico is nominated for the Grammy Awards and Évora wins a French Victoires de la Musique award in the “Best World Album” category.
2001: São Vicente di Longe, Cesária Évora’s 8th studio album is recorded in Paris, La Havana and Rio de Janeiro. Nearly sixty musicians, arrangers and sound engineers work on the project in an environment that bears absolutely no resemblance to the conditions the singer recorded in at the start of her studio career. The album is as successful as “Café Atlantico”. It is also nominated for the Grammy Awards in the USA and the Victoires de la Musique in France.
2004: Voz d'Amor is awarded in the beginning of 2004, in the « Best World Music Album » category, by both a Grammy Award (in the US) and a Victoires de la Musique (in France).
Label: Lusafrica | Released: 2011 | Length: 60'29"