I have loved her music for years after picking up a random Cape Verde compilation in the 80s. Worth investigating on YouTube. Sing in Peace.
From the Telegraph
Known as the “Barefoot Diva” for her habit of performing without shoes, Cesária Evora was the mistress of “morna” — the guitar-based music of the Cape Verde Islands. The essence of morna is the idea of “sodade”, a profound nostalgia and melancholy which are also features of Portuguese fado, certain South American genres and of the Blues. Cesária Evora’s themes were the vicissitudes of love, the pain of rejection and the suffering of the exile who longs to return home.
Having begun her singing career in the rough bars of Mindelo, the port city on the island of São Vicente, Cesária Evora brought the same informality to her performances on the international stage. On one occasion, in the middle of a concert in New York City, she ignored the rigid ban on smoking to light up a cigarette — to the delight of her audience.
Singing for the most part in the version of creole spoken in her homeland, she toured with a Cape Verdean band which accompanied her on guitars (including the cavaquinho), bass, piano, violin, saxophone and percussion.
“Our music is a lot of things,” Cesária Evora said in an interview in 2000. “Some say it’s like the Blues, or jazz. Others say it’s like Brazilian or African music, but no one really knows. ”
Cesária Evora was born on August 27 1941 and grew up at Mindelo. Her father died when she was seven, and three years later she was sent to an orphanage because her mother, who worked as a cook, was finding it hard to bring up her seven children. Cesária always retained, however, fond memories of her mother, extolling her in one of her songs: “Next to your oven, you raised us with your black skirt and your little scarf. You showed us who we were.”
By the age of 16 Cesária was working as a seamstress. She had also been singing with a local choir, and a friend suggested that she perform in the bars of Mindelo, where the visiting sailors were in search of some invigorating nightlife. Initially she was not paid, simply allowed free drinks — encouraging a fondness for cognac that eventually, in the mid-Nineties, forced her to forswear alcohol .
Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975 , and fewer ships came to dock at Mindelo. For a time Cesária abandoned singing, and few would have heard of her had not a local musician urged her, in 1985, to try her luck as a performer in Lisbon.
There a Frenchman of Cape Verdean descent, José da Silva, persuaded her to go to Paris, where , in 1988, she recorded an album, La Diva aux Pieds Nus (a reference to her habit of performing without shoes), which won critical acclaim. Her fourth album, Miss Perfumado (1992), took her popularity beyond France, and Cesária (1995) won her a Grammy nomination. Now in her fifties, she embarked on a highly successful series of international tours. In 1996 she gave a sell-out concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
In 2003 she won a Grammy in the World Music category for her album Voz D’Amor.