Monday, June 27, 2011

Cape Verde's musical ambassadors

Suzanna Lubrano
Music is the universal language. There are as many dialects of music as there are countries; probably more since some countries practice several dialects of music. And each country has its "ambassadors" of music - those individuals who bring a country's music to the world; in the same manner that you might think of Bob Marley as Jamaica's musical ambassador.

Cape Verde has several such ambassadors. Most music fans around the world may recognize the music of Cape Verde through its eldest musical stateswoman, Cesaria Evora, the country's first Grammy Award winner. The musical style she croons is called Morna. There is a haunting beauty in these melancholic songs. The music is meant to be romantic or even philosophical. It is fitting for the background of a romantic candle-lit dinner.

Cape Verdeans emigrants play morna when they experience sodade or nostalgia. Listen to the videos below of Cesaria and of Lura, a talented cantadora born in Portugal of Cape Verdean parents. You'll probably be in tears before either song is done!

Then there is the lively, dance music called Funana. This is where you get to shake your booty to the musical beat. You can dance alone or as a couple. Dancing to Funana is enjoyed by young and old alike and is often played at Cape Verdean parties. The most well known Cape Verdean ambassador of Funana is the group called Ferro Gaita. They play to sold out audiences around the world. You can enjoy a Ferro Gaita music video below. It shows the instruments used as well as the manner in which individuals and couples dance to Funana. Make sure you've done some exercise before you get to Cape Verde as Funana will definitely wear you out before the music ends!

Somewhere between Morna and Funana, is Coladera in terms of the musical pace. The style reminds me a little of calypso music from the Caribbean, which only underscores the common African roots of these musical forms. Listen to the music in this video by the singer Jorge Neto, who is known for his sartorial splendor, or as Cape Verdeans would say, his bazófia.

Then there is the music for those who like a slower pace. It's called Zouk. Zouk is not Cape Verdean but has a broader application to other African countries, as well as to the French Caribbean (where Zouk originated). Sometimes the music is infused with a Latin or Jazz style. And there is room for the artiste to include the unique characteristics of the native music culture. One ambassador of this style is Suzanna Lubrano, a very popular Cape Verdean cantadora who resides in the Netherlands. The Cape Verdean Zouk, as is the case with all forms, is definitely meant for couples, and is played in all of the nightclubs in Cape Verde. The video below will provide you with the an appreciation of Zouk.

Of course, there are many other excellent artistes of Cape Verdean heritage but unfortunately I cannot present them all in this single blog post. You could find many more examples on YouTube. But, I will leave you these three bonus videos. See if you can guess which musical style each fits.

If you can't understand the Kriolu, then you need to be looking at this post!


Angelo said...

Thanks for the comment. Your observation could not be more true.

Angelo said...

If you happen to be in the Boston, USA area and would like to sample the Cape Verdean culture, you can feast on art, music and food at the following event:

WHEN:“My Beloved Cape Verde” art exhibit , July 6-8 by appointment; "Cruzamente”, Thursday, 7/7/2011, Show 8:00 –10:10pm.

WHO:Featuring Nela Barbosa, established painter, and Cruzamente, all female band led by the well-known Maria Lutchinha Neves.

WHERE:Roxbury Center for Arts at Hibernian Hall,
184 Dudley Street 3rd Floor, Roxbury, MA
Limited free parking is available in the lot behind Hibernian Hall.

COST:“My Beloved Cape Verde” art exhibit, free 9-5pm, by appointment; and
Thursday, July 7, 7:30-9:30pm
The Cruzamente performance is a ticketed event
Single Ticket: $12; Meal and show combo: $28; Combo for two: $54. 617-849-6322

Angelo said...

Thanks "Android developer." Do you have any reaction to the types of Cape Verdean music I shared in the article? Any particular type you prefer?

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