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Barefoot Diva
by John Pederson
Issue 2
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Cabo Verde
Césaria Évora
RCA, 2000
Césaria Évora’s fame is as unique as her eloquent Cape Verdean ballads. She earned the title “barefoot diva” early in her career for frequently performing without shoes, a sign of solidarity with her impoverished homeland of Cape Verde, a Portuguese colony of the coast of Senegal. She has released ten albums over two decades, but nothing as enchanting as her 1997 tribute, Cabo Verde.

The album bears the serene energy of the first stretch after a long siesta. It affirms reality but draws its strength from a deeper dream of rhythm and soul. Her sultry Creole-Portuguese melodies translate into the lingua franca of pain and passion all over the world.

One of the first songs, Partida is an intimate blend of violin, piano and classical guitars. The song has an unhurried and enchanting rhythm, like calm waters lapping on the Verdean shores. A few tracks later, things pick up with a Regresso, a sexier work of clarinet and acoustic accompaniment that delivers the anxiety and exaltation of a lover’s long-awaited return.

It’s an effective and addicting message, one that has kept me returning to this album since its debut eight years ago.

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