Cesaria Evora – Cize to her friends
Was born on the 27th August 1941 in Mindelo, Cape Verde. Her bright voice and physical
charms were soon noticed, but her hope of a singing career remained unsatisfied. A Cape Verdean women’s group and the singer Bana both took her to Lisbon to cut a few tracks, but the recordings failed to catch the ear of a producer.
A young Frenchman of Cape Verdean extraction invited her to Paris to make a record. At 47, she had nothing to lose. Having never seen Paris, she agreed.
1988: Her first album is released: “La Diva aux pieds nus” (The Barefoot Diva) produced by
Lusafrica. The zouk-flavoured coladera “Bia Lulucha” is a
hit with the Cape Verdean community. She gives a first concert in Paris to a small crowd at the New Morning on the October 1st.
“Distino di Belita”, her second album, includes acoustic mornas and electric coladeras. Its
release is very low-key and her label decides to try a different tack, recording a purely acoustic record.
Cesaria is in France to record her first acoustic album. Accompanied by the Mindel Band, she performs at the Angoulême Festival on June
2nd, and at the Paris New Morning on the 7th. While the Paris concert only draws a small number of Cape Verdean fans, the Angoulême concert attracts interest from the specialized press (first review in the daily newspaper Liberation). Her “Mar Azul” album is released at the end of October, word spreads, and FM radio FIP play- lists the record. A new concert is organized on December 14th at the New Morning. Her performance stuns the now mainly European audience in the packed theatre. Veronique Mortaigne writes in Le Monde:
“Cesaria Evora, a lively fifty-year-old, sings morna with mischievous devotion… (she) belongs to the world nobility of bar singers”. The legend has begun to take shape.
With “Mar Azul”, media excitement grows and radio stations such as France Inter play-list the track. Cesaria performs at the Nîmes Feria on June 7th. “Miss Perfumado” is released in France in October. The press compares Cesaria to Billie Holliday. Critics enthuse over the sweetness of her voice and provide many details that fuel her legend: Cesaria’s extravagant taste for brandy and tobacco, her hard life on Cape Verde’s forgotten islands, the warm nights of Mindelo… Concerts at the Paris Theatre de la Ville on the December 11th and 12th are sold out a month in advance. She plays her first concert in Brussels at the Botanique (December 7th).
Miss Perfumado” is a smash hit in France (more than 450,000 copies sold to date). Cize performs for the first time in Lisbon at the Teatro São Luis (May 25th) and the police is forced to hold back a crowd of fans who cannot get into the hall. Two full houses at the Paris Olympia on June 12th & 13th, complete her triumph in France (the show is recorded and a Live album released on Parisian label Melodie in 1996). She begins to tour the world: Barcelona (June 21st), the Montreal Spectrum (July 14th), Japan (end of October) and France (30 concerts at the end of 1993).
Concerts in São Paulo (May). Caetano Veloso performs on stage with Cesaria and announces that she has a place among the great female singers who have inspired him. Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Africa, the West Indies… Cesaria is a stage phenomenon. Her Lusafrica label sign her to BMG and the record company releases a compilation entitled “Sodade, les plus belles Mornas de Cesaria” (Sodade, Cesaria’s finest mornas) in the autumn. She gives up drinking, but not smoking.
The album “Cesaria” (gold in France) is released in twenty countries including the USA
(200,000 copies sold to date). The album is nominated for the Grammy Awards ®. Cesaria appears for 10 days at the Paris Bataclan and goes on her first tour of North America. Madonna, David Byrne, Brandford Marsalis and New York society flock to see her at the Bottom Line. Goran Bregovic asks her to record the song “Ausencia” for the original soundtrack of Emir Kusturica’s film “Underground”.
A year of tours: France (40 concerts), Switzerland, Belgium, Brazil, Germany (11 concerts), Hong Kong, Italy, Sweden, the USA and Canada (30 concerts), Senegal, the Ivory Coast and her first (sell-out) concert in London at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. She sings a duet with Caetano Veloso on the album “Red Hot & Rio”. The Arte TV channel devotes a documentary to her. Paulino Vieira (who co-produced the two albums “Miss Perfumado” and “Cesaria”) leaves the group and is replaced by the young, talented guitarist Rufino Almeida, known as Bau.
Release of the album “Cabo Verde”. A series of concerts at the Olympia in March is followed by a world tour including her third tour of the USA. The album “Cabo Verde” is also nominated for the Grammy Awards ®.
Cesaria is on the road again accompanied by Jacinto Pereira (cavaquinho), José Paris (bass),
Luis Ramos (guitars), Nando Andrade (piano), Totinho (saxophones and percussion) and Bau (guitars, cavaquinho, violin, band leader). From Greece to Japan, Israel to Portugal and the West Indies to Lebanon, Cesaria travels the world in 1998, but still finds time to record material for an album whose release is planned for April 1999. Before then, at the end of October, BMG releases the first “Best of Cesaria Evora”, which includes all her fans’ favorite songs, as well
as “Besame Mucho” (sung in Spanish), recorded the previous year for the original soundtrack
ChronologiCal biography of the film “Great Expectations”. In France, this “Best of” is certified gold three months later in January.
The year 1999 begins with a Grammy ® nomination for the album “Miss Perfumado” (released in France in 1992, it only came out in the USA in 1998). The new album, entitled “Café Atlantico”, is released in France (400,000 copies to date), then worldwide in May. In March, Cesaria begins a world tour in Greece and again performs in North America in September and October. On stage, the band is enlarged to reflect the festive fee of the new repertoire: 12 musicians (including a violin section) are now led by pianist Nando Andrade. The tour ends in São Salvador, Brazil, just after a series of four concerts given at the Paris Olympia from the 7th to the 10th December. There, Cesaria receives several gold records presented by
different BMG subsidiaries.
“Café Atlantico” is nominated for the Grammy Awards ® and Cesaria wins a French Victoire de
la Musique award in the Best World Music Album category, just before taking to the road again in April for her first major Latin American tour of Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. After
Scandinavia in May, she sets out on another tour (of festivals) in the USA and Europe.
“São Vicente di longe”, Cesaria Evora’s 8th studio album is recorded in Paris, La Havana and
Rio de Janeiro. Nearly sixty musicians, arrangers and sound engineers work on the project in an
environment that bears absolutely no resemblance to the conditions the singer recorded in at the start of her studio career. The album is as strikingly successful as “Café Atlantico”. It is also
nominated for the Grammy Awards ® in the USA and the Victoires de la Musique in France. Cesaria is still on the road: 120 concerts in 2001 alone, including the Paris Zenith with around twenty Cape Verdean artists on stage with her.
A new major tour is planned that will take Cesaria to the five continents, with – for the
first time – a series of concerts in Eastern Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Croatia, Macedonia, Hungary), as well as Singapore, Tahiti and Noumea. On June 20th, BMG publishes an “Anthology”, compiling live audience favorites and a new version of “Sodade” sung in a duet with Bonga, the greatest vocal artist in Angolan music and one of Cesaria’s oldest friends.
begins with 3 concerts in Hong-Kong (1, 2 and 3 March). This new world tour includes Spain, Romania, Mexico, among other countries, together with a huge, North American tour, including 40 cities east to West. On June 17th, BMG releases “Club Sodade”, a project bringing together 10 of the Diva’s best songs, revisited by some of the most creative DJ’s of the house scene: Carl Craig, Kerri Chandler, Pepe Bradock, Señor Coconut, Francois K., and many
others… This release is a prelude to Cesaria’s new studio album, entitled “Voz d’Amor”, published by BMG internationaly in September 2003, and highly acclaimed by the press worldwide.
“Voz d’Amor” is awarded in the beginning of 2004, in the « Best World Music Album » category,
by both a GRAMMY AWARD ®, in the US, and a VICTOIRE DE LA MUSIQUE, in France. The year 2004 is a very European year for Cesaria: she gives 82 concerts in 24 different European countries. Amongst them 5 sold out shows in Paris’ Le Grand Rex. This series of concert is filmed for a DVD, that is released on the following October.
Cesaria begins the year 2005 with a tour that brings her from the Baltic States to South Africa. Due to a surgical operation she has to interrupt the tour in May, just before several shows planned in the United States and Canada. Fortunately, this interruption is quite short. In September, Cesaria returns to the studios to record her new album, and goes back on a tour from Siberia (4 shows in October) to Brazil.
“Rogamar”, Cesaria’s tenth album is released on March 6th. Fifteen tracks, including a duet
with Ismael Lô on “Africa Nossa”, make this album sound like a link between Africa, Europe and
Brazil. Cesaria begins a new tour in North America (Mexico, U.S.A. and Canada) before playing in Paris at Le Grand Rex and at some of major European festivals.
Cesaria begins her 2007 tour in Hungary with a show in Debrecen (April 6th) and two others in
Budapest (7th & 8th) before performing in Russia in Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Yekaterinburg in front of a won over audience. Her success in the former eastern block does not decrease but unfortunately that series of concerts is put to an end and her tour in the US scheduled for June and July cancelled. The doctors have diagnosed a coronary problem and decide to have Cesaria operated. She only hits the road again at the end of the year with a series of shows in Russia.
The new tour starts in Australia. But suffering from a stroke after her Melbourne concert,
Cesaria is admitted at the hospital and flies back to Paris to have a thorough medical examination. The tour is cancelled and Cize is required to rest for several months. Lusafrica
takes advantage of that quiet period to release the recordings Cesaria had done for various local radio stations of Mindelo when she was in her twenties back in the early 1960s. Released in November, the “Radio Mindelo” album comes with a richly illustrated book with pictures and documents of the time. These 22 tracks, mostly exclusive, delight the fans, helping them wait for a new studio album.
Cesaria is doing much better and gets back onstage but she needs to take it easy so her
public appearances become less frequent than in the past. Her new album “Nha Sentimento” is
released on October 26th. Three tracks are richely arranged by Egyptian producer Fathy Salama also Musical Director for Cairo’s Grand Orchestra. This album, unanimously acclaimed by international press, testifies of Cesaria’s come back after three years away from the studios.
She starts a new tour on October 1st in Bucharest and performs in Sofia, Paris (two sold out shows at Grand Rex), Wroclaw, Baltic, countries, Israel…
Cape Verdean singer Lura writes “Moda Bô”, a tribute song to Cesaria: “As a child,
I dreamed of being like you / Singing on stage in divine light, like you / Often in my teens
in front of the mirror / I used a pretend microphone to sing like you / I want to sing like you”
sings Lura to Cesaria, who replies to her “In my time, I’ve met people and seen the world
/ Achieved my life’s dream, singing of Cape Verde, singing of my land / I want to share
my experience with everyone. I want to share the history of a people with the world / The history of a life”. The two women record it as a duet in January. Cesaria hits the road again in the spring for a new tour – while she is about to perform in Barcelona on May 7th, she complains about shoulder pain. The test ran in the Catalan city don’t show anything special and Cesaria is allowed to proceed to her show in Barcelona (which was a great success) as well as the next day in Lisbon where she shares the bill with Bonga at Coliseu for a unforgettable concert.
Back to Paris on May 10th, she’s admitted at the hospital for further exams. The doctors’ diagnosis is stark: Cesaria has a serious coronary issue and needs immediate open heart surgery. Fortunately she has sound constitution and the operation is successful but she
still has to recover and relax in the Parisian region before can go back home to Mindelo in July. Of course, all her shows are cancelled including a US tour and a series of concerts she was supposed to do at the Universal Expo in Shanghai.
Feeling good, she does a small series of shows in October (Bucarest, Macau and Shanghai). In
November Lusafrica releases “Cesaria Evora &”, a compilation of the most beautiful duets she recorded between 1993 and 2010, with Marisa Monte, Compay Segundo, Salif Keita, Caetano Veloso, Bernard Lavilliers, Adriano Celentano, and many others including Lura for the tracks “Moda Bô”.
After a few shows in Minsk (March 10th), Bogota (March 17th & 19th) and a series of concerts
in Russia early April, Cesaria comes back stronger than ever on the stage of Parisian venue
Grand-Rex on April 29th & 30th. She gives a dozen performances from May to July including shows in Poland, Vienna (Austria), Brussels (Palais des Beaux Arts) and Italy, before going home to rest in Cape Verde where she celebrates her 70th birthday simply surrounded by her close ones.
Later, in an interview done with Le Monde on September 23rd, Cesaria announces he retirement from this nomad life, which has taken her to the 4 corners of the world since her great debut on an international level in 1991. Cesaria Evora passed away on Saturday the 17th of December 2011, in her hometown of Mindelo.
20 years after its release in November 1992, Lusafrica publishes a remastered version of
Miss Perfumado, which includes a second CD with excerpts of the albums La Diva aux Pieds Nus, Distino di Belita and Mar Azul.
Lusafrica releases on 4 March 2013, an album including 13 unreleased tracks recorded from
1997 (album « Cabo Verde ») to 2006 (album « Rogamar »), entitled « Mãe Carinhosa » (Mother tenderness).
1988 « La Diva aux Pieds Nus » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva
1990 « Distino di Belita » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Ramiro Mendes
1991 « Mar Azul » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva
1992 « Miss Perfumado » (Lusafrica), album producer: Paulino Vieira
1995 « Cesaria (Lusafrica), album producer: Paulino Vieira
1997 « Cabo Verde » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Rufino Almeida (Bau
1999 « Café Atlantico » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva
2001 « São Vicente di Longe »
(Lusafrica), album producer:
José da Silva
2003 « Voz d’Amor (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Nando Andrade
2006 « Rogamar » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Nando Andrade
2009 « Nha Sentimento» (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Nando Andrade.
2013 « Mãe Carinhosa » (Lusafrica), album producer: José da Silva & Nando Andrade
1996 « Cesaria Evora à
L’Olympia » (Mélodie)
2008 « Radio Mindelo » (Lusafrica) – Recordings made in the early sixties in different radios of
Mindelo, Cape Verde.
Main Compilations albums:
1994 « Sodade, les plus belles mornas de Cesaria » (Lusafrica/BMG)
1998 « Best of Cesaria Evora » (Lusafrica/BMG)
2002 « Anthologie Cesaria Evora » (CD simple / Lusafrica/BMG)
2002« Anthologie Cesaria Evora, mornas & coladeras » (2CD / Lusafrica/BMG)
2009 « Best of 3CD» (3CD / Lusafrica/Sony Music)
2010 « Cesaria Evora & » album containing duets recorded with
Adriano Celentano, Bernard Lavilliers, Bonga, Compay Segundo, Goran Bregovic, Ismael Lô, Marisa
Monte, Tania Libertad, etc… (CD simple / Lusafrica/Sony Music)
2003 « Club Sodade » (Lusafrica) –Cesaria revisited by DJs and producers: Carl Craig, François K.,
AWARDS / GOLD RECORDS
Up to this day, Cesaria Evora has sold over 6 million records. They are released worldwide and she
unquestionably is the greatest world music singer.
Gold (more than 100.000ex): Cesaria / Cabo Verde / São Vicente di
Longe / Voz d’Amor / Rogamar.
Double-Gold (more than 200.000ex): Café Atlantico / Best of. Platinium (more than 300.000ex): Miss
Gold: Miss Perfumado / Cabo Verde / São Vicente di Longe. Platinium: Best of.
Gold: Café Atlantico / São Vicente di Longe / Voz d’Amor / Nha
Sentimento. Platinium: Best of. GREECE Platinium: Best of. CANADA
Gold: Cesaria / Best of.
GRAMMY AWARDS ® – USA:
1996, Cesaria Evora nominated for « Cesaria » released in 1995
1998, nominated for « Cabo Verde » released in 1997
1999, nominated for « Miss Perfumado » released in 1998 in the USA (but released in 1992 in France)
2000, nominated for « Café Atlantico » released in 1999
2002, nominated for « São Vicente di Longe » released in 2001
Cesaria Evora wins the GRAMMY AWARD ® in February 2004 for album
« Voz d’Amor » released in the USA in September 2003
VICTOIRES DE LA MUSIQUE – France:
Cesaria wins twice the VICTOIRE DE LA MUSIQUE (category World Music award) in 2000 for album « Café
Atlantico » released in 1999, and in 2004 for the album « Voz d’Amor » released in 2003.
Cesaria is nominated 3 times to the VICTOIRES DE LA MUSIQUE in
2002 for album « São Vicente di Longe » released in 2001, in 2007 for album « Rogamar » released in
2006, and in 2010 for the album « Nha Sentimento » released in 2009.
Cesaria Evora is made a member of the Legion of Honour by President
Jacques Chirac, in 2007.