Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Loving my roots: Cesaria Evora, the Morna & Sao Vincente

January 24 is actually my birthday and as I thought about it I realized that it would be a good time to launch a new feature on my blog. The idea came to me during the month of December when cesaria Evora passed away.

"Loving my roots" is my way to appreciate and honor my (Black /African) origins.

Today I am taking you on a small historical tour as I share how Cesaria Evora influenced my life as a young African girl. 

I have fond memories of my childhood listening to Cesaria Evora. As a child growing both in a French speaking African country and in France I was so intrigued by the beauty of her voice, her language (Cape verdean Creole) and the Morna.

The Morna is a music and dance genre from Cape Verde. It's considered the national music of Cape Verde just like the fado is for Portugal. You can easily detect the fado (portuguese) sounds in the Morna.

    In case you wonder why the Morna has a portuguese influence here a very quick history.
In 1495 the Cape Verde islands became part of the portuguese empire.
In 1951, Cape Verde's status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province.
In 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens.
In 1975 the islands became independent following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire.

When I first moved to the USA 17 years ago, I carried with me some of Cesaria Evora albums. She was ( her music) a faithful companion, helping me overcome the solitude of a new life away from home while, homesick, I would find comfort in listening to familiar vibes.

The Queen of Morna, Cesaria Evora passed away on December 17,2011 and it's her death that actually triggered in me the desire to honor my roots and start this new feature on my blog.

She was born on  August 27 1941 in Mindelo, Sao Vincente, Cape Verde. She started singing at 16. It was always enchanting to hear songs  of ' La Diva aux pieds nus'  a.k.a the barefoot diva.  She got that nickname from the fact that she would perform without wearing her shoes.

All the pictures were found online but there's something sentimental to me about this one below because it reminds me of my grandmother.

Cesaria Evora photo credit Eric Mulet
Hope you have a moment to enjoy the video below, the music is exquisite.

This song "Carnival of Sao Vincente" and this version in particular is one of my favorite as I love to dance to it and it always put me in a superb mood!

Enjoy ....

The video below is a shorter and less " jazzy" version of the one above but offer some very pleasant pictures of Cape Verde.

In relation to Morna, Sao Vincente is more than the birthplace of Cesaria Evora, it's also a  derivative of Morna.
The three main genre of  Morna are:
 1) Boa Vista the oldest genre of morna,
 2) Brava morna and
 3)Sao Vincente a derivative of Brava morna.

Boa Vista, a genre of Morna, is portuguese for "good view" and it's also the name of the easternmost island of Cape Verde.

Just like the name Boa Vista refers to a genre of morna and to a cape verdean island, the name Sao Vincente refers to other things as well.

The name Sao Vincente , portuguese for Saint Vincent, can also refer to 3 locations:
  • the island in Cape Verde, 
  •  a  coastal city of Sao Paulo in Brazil or
  •  a municipality along the north west coast of the island of Madeira.
images of Sao Vincente, Cape Verde

Stunning isn't it?
Situated in front of Senegal in West Africa, the islands of Cape Verde benefits from magnificent caribbean like weather because they are on the same latitude as the Caribbeans islands.

Photo Source: capeverde.co.uk

Historically the islands were used during the slave trade and served as a shipping port.

Image of Sao Vincente Sao Paulo Brazil.  Founded in 1532 by Portuguese settlers, Sao Vincente is Brazil's oldest city.

source: hamiltonpaints.com

Images of Sao Vincente Madeira

Hope you enjoyed my little historical tour! Are you familiar with any of the Sao Vicente location or with Cape Verde? Are you also a Cesaria Evora fan?



  1. Happy Birthday! I just celebrated my birthday last week.

  2. Thank you Jenjen happy belate birthday to you.

  3. Happy birthday!!!!
    I enjoyed the journey alot!!! Life is such a wonderful thing!

    Hope you had a great birthday and that you are ready to welcome baby. What a gift.

  4. @ Naturaleza Thanks for the birthday wishes!
    Life is indeed a wonderful thing! She's actually here and I was planning on writing a post about it today so you beat me to the puncj! (smiles).
    Thank you for being here and sharing my special moments!

  5. Happy Belated birthday and thanks for sharing this link with me. My mom and grandmother are from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the West Indies. See links for info: