|Cesaria Evora, born in 1941 in the port town of Mindelo on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, is known as the barefoot diva because of her propensity to appear on stage in her bare feet in support of the disadvantaged women and children of her country.
Cesaria struggled hard in the early days of her career and actually ended up abandoning music for a full ten years. These ten "dark" years appear to have been largely spent drowning her sorrows and failed love affairs in drink, plumbing the depths of "sodade" (the nostalgia of lost love and exile).
Long known as the queen of the morna, a soulful genre sung in Creole-Portuguese, she mixes her sentimental folk tunes filled with longing and sadness with the acoustic sounds of guitar, cavaquinho, violin, accordian, and clarinet. Evora's Cape Verdean blues often speak of the country's long and bitter history of isolation and slave trade, as well as emigration: almost two-thirds of the million Cape Verdeans alive live abroad.
Evora's voice, a finely-tuned, melancholy instrument with a touch of hoarseness, highlights her emotional phrasing by accenting a word or phrase. Even audiences who do not understand her language are held spell-bound by the emotions evident in her performances.