"The Barefoot Diva" Cesária Évora brings the breeze from Cape Verde to Beijing

The greatest musical treasure, the ‘Barefoot Diva’ Cesária Évora, with Mayra Andrade and Tcheka, together represent the next generation of musicians from Cape Verde.

Cesaria and the organizers thank the audience (from left Deputy Director General of the Chinese Ministry of Culture Mr. Yu Peng, Cesária Évora and Cape Verde Ambassador to China Mr. Julio De Morais)

On the evening of the 10th October the PLA Theatre was brought to its feet by the intoxicating rhythm of the Sea Breeze from Cape Verde. The nation's greatest musical treasure, the 'Barefoot Diva'Cesária Évora,along with Mayra Andrade and Tcheka, who together represent the next generation of musicians from Cape Verde, guided the audience on an exhilarating journey through the colorful musical landscape of their West African island home. This much anticipated event was finally realized after years of close collaboration between the Chinese Ministry of Culture, the Embassy of the Republic of Cape Verde in China and Wu Promotion, making it one of the most high profile events of both the African Cultures in Focus 2010 and the Cape Verde day at 2010 World Expo Shanghai.

Taking the stage first, and accompanied by her vibrant touring band, Mayra Andrade's golden voice floated gracefully through the air as she immersed herself in songs such as Tchapu na Bandera (Never Forget), Mon Carrousel and Seu (Sky). Mon Carrousel in particular betrayed Mayra's Brazilian influences, the samba rhythm calling the audience from their seats to join the dance as she sang"love turns my life around, without love I just endure my days". The musical atmosphere she creates frequently verges on the riotous, overflowing with vitality. However at times the lively rhythm falls away to reveal a darker and more thoughtful aspect that leaves a profound impression.

'Barefoot Diva'Cesária Évora Singing

Following the guitar led performance of Cape Verdean fusion-folk pioneer Tcheka, Cesária Évora entered the stage. Her hits such as Ligereza (Light-heartedness), Travessa de Peixeira (In Fishwife's Alley), Petit Pays, Sodade (Longing) and Regresso fell on familiar ears, and were rewarded with breathless applause. The band seemed to be playing from the wave lapped sands of Cape Verde;their rhythm summoned on the breeze across the wide blue ocean by the Barefoot Diva to accompany her weary reminiscences on life, love and her homeland. The final song of the Beijing set, Regresso, held a special poignancy as Cesaria sung about the feeling of being far from her home village. "I want to be so near you, imprint you in my eyes, see you by my side, as maybe tomorrow I will be far away!" Although the sentiment was melancholy, the special warmth of feeling never left her voice.

Wu Promotion staff with Cesaria Evora

As the concert drew to a close some audience members ran excitedly to the front of the stage to dance, following which the entire auditorium rose to its feet to demand one last song. Despite the wind and rain of the Beijing autumn night, a crowd of ticketless fans had waited hopefully outside the venue long after the proceedings had begun. For their sake we hope that the warm Sea Breeze from Cape Verde will blow through Beijing again soon.

Review: CCTV - Culture Express