Last year, I blogged about how I was in love with a Morna singer from a tiny archipelago off the coast of North Africa. Cesária Évora died yesterday on Sao Vicente, the island she grew up on, in Cape Verde. She was 70. No singer better exemplifies the universality of music. She sang mostly in Portuguese and very occasionally in Spanish or French and yet her remarkable voice evoked something profound in me. The French called her la diva aux pieds nus - the barefoot diva because she always sang without shoes. Cesária had a difficult life, growing up in an orphanage and scrounging a living by singing in bars to sailors and on passing ships. She was only "discovered" in the 80s. And what a discovery it was - a voice that can melt a hardened heart. Fame brought her some financial security but no relief from a constant battle with alcoholism.
When I listen to my Évora favourites - Besame mucho, Sodade or Petit pays, I am transformed into someone else. It's not about escape from the real world. Her voice drips with far too much pain for that. Instead, Cesária's music empowers you to stand outside yourself for just a moment and recognize that love, life and suffering are too tightly woven together to beat yourself up every time you trip.
Sweet dreams my silver-tongued angel. Obrigado por tudo.
(1941 - 2011)