Show #52: Music of Cape Verde (The Classics)

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Memorable travels in Cape Verde (April, 2014) (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I just spent 9 days in Praia, capital of Santiago, the biggest island in the Cape Verde chain. I went there to visit the Atlantic Music Expo and the Kriol Jazz Festival, and was invited because I’ve championed Cesaria Evora’s music for 20+ years. It was a delight and an honor.

This show focuses on 4 different musical styles as well as the music of some of the big names in Cape Verdean music, artists who’ve produced classics over the past 50 years.

We begin with the great Amandio Cabral, a huge star in the 1950s and the songwriter who penned Cape Verde’s most famous song, Sodade, which became famous around the world with Cesaria Evora‘s version on her best-selling album Miss Perfumado. Cabral performs a morna, the slow bluesy style of Cape Verdean music in a recording from 1960. We follow it with a piece in the faster funana style, then a third style, coladeira, also a faster, buoyant-sounding music. Finally, we get a batuque, a percussive music, often performed by girls and women, who put cloth-wrapped items in their laps and drum them. This improvised style came about when the Portuguese colonial authorities banned drums; the rhythm still had to come out, and it was called batuque (bah-tuuk). This one I feature is performed by a contemporary group called Terrero, which I bought at Praia’s main record store, Harmonia.

Then we have some big stars on the Cape Verdean scene: songs by Bana & Titina, elder statesmen and women of Cape Verde. Cesaria’s guitarist Bau performs an old Brazilian song, Na Baixa do Sapateiro, referring to the name of a street in Salvador, Bahia. The final quartet of songs come from some big established stars, Maria Alice, Boy Ge Mendes, Tito Paris, and we cap the playlist with Cesaria Evora, singing a song that was remixed for dance clubs on an album called Club Sodade. We hear Cesaria’s original version from 1992.

I hope you enjoy this Part 1 series of classic Cape Verdean music. Read more about these classic musical styles in a recent blog post, The Musical Culture of of Cape Verde. Next week, we focus on Cape Verde’s rising stars in Part 2. Stay tuned!


Rhythm Planet Playlist: 4/25/14

  1. Amandio Cabral / Xandinha / Cap Vert: Anthologie 1959 – 1992 / Buda Records
  2. Dany Carvalho / Praia Maria  / Funana Dance / Lusafrica
  3. Longino Batista / Ritmos Caboverianos / Cap Vert: Anthologie 1959 – 1992 / Buda Records
  4. Terrero / Cabe Verde / Nu Matuta / Harmonia
  5. Bana / Sodade De Cabo Verde / Bana Chante La Magie Du Cap Vert / Lusafrica
  6. Titina / Galo Bedjo / The Soul Of Cape Verde / Lusafrica
  7. Bau / Na Baixa Do Sapateiro / Ilha Azul / Harmonia
  8. Maria Alice / Falso Testemunho / The Soul of Cape Verde / Lusafrica
  9. Boy Ge Mendes / Joia / Lagoa / Lusafrica
  10. Tito Paris / Sodade / Live In Lisbon At Club B. Leza / Lusafrica
  11. Cesaria Evora / Angola / Cap Vert: Anthologie 1959 – 1992 / Buda Musique

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