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by World Music Network December 19, 2011


Cesária Evora: 1941-2011

The World Music Network were sad to hear news of Cesária Evora's passing on 17 December in São Vicente, Cape Verde. Evora's health had deteriorated since the announcement of her retirement from music in late September 2011. She was an incredible talent who will truly be missed. 

Born in Mindelo, São Vicente in 1941, Evora was placed in an orphanage at the age of ten after the untimely death of her father, as her mother could not raise all six of her children. At sixteen she began singing in sailors taverns, and in the 1960s she started singing on Portuguese cruise ships stopping at Mindelo as well as on the local radio. It was only in 1985 when at the invitation of Cape Verdean singer Bana she went to perform in Portugal. In Lisbon she was 'discovered' by the musician José da Silva, and invited to record in Paris.

Évora's international success came in 1988 with the release of her first album 'La Diva Aux Pieds Nus' (a reference to her tendency to perform without shoes) recorded in France. Her fourth album released in 1992, 'Miss Perfumado', sold over 300,000 copies worldwide, while her next 'Cesária' brought broader international success and the first Grammy Award nomination. In 1997, she won the KORA All African Music Awards in three categories: Best Artist of West Africa, Best Album and Merit of the Jury, and in 2004, her album 'Voz d'Amorwas' awarded a Grammy in the World music category.

The last of Evora's albums, 'Nha Sentimento', was released in 2009, which was followed by a series of concerts in 2010, the last of which was in Lisbon on 8 May. Two days later, after a heart attack, she was operated on at a hospital in Paris. After further treatment, she announced her retirement from music at the end of September.