Cesária Évora, GCIH was born on August 27th, 1941, and died on December 17th, 2011. She was a Cape Verdean vocalist and recording artist. Nicknamed the “Barefoot Diva” for performing without shoes, she was also known as the “Queen of Morna.”
Cesária Évora Quick Facts
Born: She was born on August 27th, 1941, Mindelo, Cape Verde
Died: She died on December 17th, 2011, São Vicente, Cape Verde
Children: Fernanda Évora, Eduardo Évora
Genres: Morna, Coladeira
Cesária Évora Parents & Early Life
“Cise” (as she was known to friends) was born in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde. When she was seven years old her father, Justino da Cruz Évora, who was a part-time musician, died. When she turned ten, she was placed in an orphanage, as her mother Dona Joana could not raise all six children. At the age of 16, she was persuaded by a friend to sing in a sailors’ tavern
She grew up at the famous house in Mindelo which other singers used from the 1940s to the 1970s, at 35 Rua de Moeda. Other Cape Verdean singers came to the house, including Djô d’Eloy, Bana, Eddy Moreno, Luis Morais, and Manuel de Novas (also as Manuel d’Novas), and it was there she received her musical education.
Cesária Évora Musical career
In the 1960s, she started singing on Portuguese cruise ships stopping at Mindelo as well as on the local radio. It was only in 1985 when at the invitation of Cape Verdean singer Bana she went to perform in Portugal. In Lisbon she was discovered by the producer José da Silva and invited to record in Paris.
She recorded the track “Ausência”, composed by Yugoslav musician Goran Bregovic, which was released as the second track of the soundtrack of the film Underground (1995) by Emir Kusturica.
Évora’s breakthrough in the international scenes came in 1988 with the release of her first commercial album La Diva Aux Pieds Nus, recorded in France. Prior to the release of the La Diva Aux Pieds Nus album, Cesária recorded her first LP titled “Cesária” in 1987. This album was later released on CD in 1995 as Audiophile Legends. Her 1992 album Miss Perfumado sold over 300,000 copies worldwide. It included one of her most celebrated songs, “Sodade”.
In 1994, Bau joined her touring band and two years later, he became her musical director up to September 1999.
In 1995, her album Cesária brought broader international success and the first Grammy Award nomination. In 1997, she won the KORA All African Music Awards in three categories: “Best Artist of West Africa”, “Best Album” and “Merit of the Jury”. In 2003, her album Voz d’Amor was awarded a Grammy in the World Music category.
In 2006 in Italy Cesária met Alberto Zeppieri (songwriter, journalist, and record producer), who would dedicate to her “Capo Verde, terra d’amore” (www.capoverde-italia.it), taking care of all creative adaptations in Italian. Cesária agreed to duet with Gianni Morandi, Gigi D’Alessio and Ron. The project, now in its fifth volume, gives visibility and raises funds for the UN World Food Programme, for which Cesária was the Ambassador since 2003.
In 2006, she released her next album Rogamar. It was a success and charted in six European countries including France, Poland, and the Netherlands. On her 2008 tour in Australia in, she suffered a stroke. In 2009, she released her final album Nha Sentimento which was recorded in Mindelo and Paris by José da Silva. The album reached number 6 in Poland and number 21 in France.
In 2009, she was made a knight of the French Legion of Honour by the French French Minister of Culture and Communications Christine Albanel, the first Cape Verdean to become one. She was awarded for the last time at the 2010 Kora All African Music Awards for the “Merit of the Jury” for the second time.
Cesária Évora Husband (Rua de Moeda)
Cesária Évora dated Eduardo de Jon Xalino when she lived at Rua de Moeda. She was also a relative of the great Bana. Her cousin was another singer Hermínia da Cruz Fortes. She was an aunt of António da Rocha Évora and Xavier da Cruz.
Cesária Évora Death & Cause
In 2010, Évora performed a series of concerts, her last one being in Lisbon on May 8th, 2010. Two days later, she suffered a heart attack and underwent surgery at a local hospital in Paris. On the morning of May 11th, 2010 she was taken off artificial pulmonary ventilation, and on May 16th, she was discharged from the intensive-care unit and transported to a clinic for further treatment. In late September 2011, Évora’s agent announced that she was ending her career due to poor health.
On December 17th, 2011, aged 70, Évora died in São Vicente, Cape Verde, from respiratory failure and hypertension. A Spanish newspaper reported that 36 hours before her death she was still receiving people – and smoking – in her home in Mindelo, popular for always having its doors open.
Cesária Évora Legacy
- In 2003, she appeared on a Cape Verdean stamp.
- A sculpture of Cesária Évora, a Cabo Verdean singer, at the eponymous airport in Mindelo, Cabo Verde.
- On September 3rd, 2013 her name was boosted publicly by the Belgian musician Stromae, when he released his famous album Racine carrée which includes “Ave Cesaria”, a track that honours Cesária Évora, one of Stromae’s favourite artists.
- On December 22nd, 2014 the Banco de Cabo Verde introduced a new series of banknotes that honor Cape Verdean figures in the fields of literature, music, and politics. Her face was featured in the new 2000 Escudos banknote.
Cesária Évora Google Doodle
Today on August 27th, 2019 Google Doodle celebrates world-renowned Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora on her 78th Birthday Anniversary. Born in Mindelo, a port city on the island of São Vicente off the West African coast on this day in 1941. Her specialty was morna, the bluesy national music of Cape Verde, which she would bring to an international audience—earning many accolades, including a Grammy Award.
The Google Doodle page was in Special thanks to the family of Cesária Évora. Her granddaughter Janete Évora shared her thoughts on the singer’s legacy which reads;
“My grandmother, Cesária Évora, was a true force of nature. Her family called her Yaya, which means “Grandma” in many African tribes. But her nickname actually came from my older brother, who couldn’t pronounce “Cesária” when he was little. “Yaya” was his best effort at an abbreviation.
Despite her lack of formal education, Yaya was one of the most intelligent women I have ever met. More than this, what stuck with me was her kindness and her willingness to help others. Nevertheless, she was blessed with a strong and inflexible personality, which also had a certain sarcastic streak.
Despite her serious gaze and that powerful voice known for singing so many melancholic songs, Cesária also had a wonderful sense of humor and loved sharing funny anecdotes.
She dedicated the song “Esperança irisada” to me. When she sang it, I danced to her voice. But apparently, she was not as moved by my singing. In fact, she used to tell me I had a terrible voice and should stick to dancing instead.
“Yaya,” I once said to her, “give me 20 dollars, and I will sing.” Her answer became one of my favorite anecdotes: “I will give you 50 dollars to keep your mouth shut,” she said.
Even though I didn’t inherit her vocal talents, I appreciated my grandmother’s sense of humor. She knew how to turn a bad voice into a good joke.”