Cape Verde is famous for its Afro-Portuguese-inlfluenced music genres: the haunting guitar-based morna and the percussive Cuba- and Brazil-influenced coladeras. Ever since her "discovery" in 1998, vocalist Cesaria Evora, the so-called "Barefoot Diva," has been her country''s greatest musical ambassor. This recording features Evora interpreting old and new Cape Verdean and Brazilian songs. Under the expert leadership of her musical director, pianist Fernado Andrade, Evora''s rich contralto is beautifully supported by guitars, the ukelele-like cavaquinho, mandolin, strings, clarinet, and percussion. Like Billie Holiday, Evora can inject a lyric with pathos and passion. That rare gift is heard on the mid-tempo "Isoloada" ("Isolated"), an aching song about a beautiful, imprisoned mulatto girl, written by Evora''s poet uncle, B. Leza, and the equally heart-wrenching "Amdjer De Nos Terra" ("Woman of Our Land"), which tells of the suffering of Cape Verdean women. The upbeat tracks include the sax-laced, vocal choired, "Pomba" ("The Dove")and Luis Morais''s "Velocidade" ("Velocity"). "Jardim Prometido" ("Promised Garden") is a nice take on the American standard "Greenfields" by another Cape Verdean composer, Teofilo Chantre. The title track features Evora in pan-African fellowship with musicians from Cuba, Brazil, and Madagascar, showing that the music of her homeland has something for everyone. --Eugene Holley, Jr.
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