CULTURE

Voice of Cape Verde back inGreece with nostalgic tunes

Cesaria Evora, one of the contemporary world music scene’s most talked-about rags-to-riches stories, returns to Athens for three shows, from December 4 to 6, and is certain to please her considerable following with her rare talent and delightful yet melancholy work. On this latest visit, Evora, whose previous visits have included a fabulous headline performance at a WOMAD festival three years ago, is back with a new album, «Rogamar,» which includes a bilingual duet with seasoned and popular Greek songstress Dimitra Galani, in Portuguese and Greek. Now 10 albums into a major career that did not get off the ground – abroad – until she was in her 50s, Evora, now 64, has remained true to her musical roots, those of her native Cape Verde, where the artist continues to reside. «This is the music that is familiar to me. This is what sings in my soul: loss, return, nostalgia, love, exile. I cannot imagine leaving my traditions behind me,» Evora told Kathimerini in a recent interview on the occasion of her new album’s release. «I grew up with this music and I feel it is my duty to preserve it. It is older than me and will be alive long after I’m gone. I am too old to change; not that I’d want to.» Evora had spent decades singing for the locals on Cape Verde before she was discovered by a Paris-based scout and successfully introduced to French listeners. Prior to that, Evora’s singing had not reached the ears of audiences in other lands. News of her breakthrough in France swiftly spread to other parts of the world to establish the mature talent as an international star. Not unlike the Icelandic pop star Bjork, whose success helped put the international spotlight on her out-of-the-way homeland, Evora’s popularity has shed streams of light on her previously neglected country. Even today, the singer remains grateful to French audiences for their initial acceptance. «None of this would have happened if the French public had not embraced me. It was the first country that put its faith in me, and if I can travel around the world today, it is because of them,» Evora recalled in the Kathimerini interview. «Rogamar,» which means «odes to the sea,» is an album about the sea, «a frequent source of inspiration for poets,» Evora said. Most of the songs were written by two of her regular associates, Manuel de Novas and Teofilo Chantre. The quality of her albums has, so far, earned Evora three Grammy Awards, between 2000 and 2004. Her artistic class is also obviously clear on stage. The Cape Verdean’s headline performance at the WOMAD festival back in 2002, a definite highlight at that event, underscored her natural talent and ability to connect with the masses – even during silence. Taking a short break from her enchanting set, Evora made lighting a cigarette and sipping from her drink look like she were in her living room with a friend or two, not before several thousand people inside a concert arena. She had had a tough life, both emotionally and financially, before international success came out of the blue late in life. Divorced three times, Evora has placed her faith in music, which she says has «never disappointed me,» and in her children and grandchildren. The mother-grandmother is all theirs, she said, when not touring or recording. «I cook whatever they want, I do their shopping, I even go out to buy their cigarettes,» Evora remarked, adding that she reserves the nights for herself. Asked whether she had ever contemplated giving up music before stardom arrived, Evora replied: «Not for a single moment. I never lost faith because I never expected anything. You can only be disappointed if you expect something.» Iera Odos, 18-20 Iera Odos. Tickets, priced between 45 and 10 euros, from Virgin Megastores or online on www.ticketnet.gr. For further information, call 210.884.0600.