Cesaria Evora, 1941-2011

One of the great vocal artists of our time has died. I saw Cesária Évora play once, many years ago, and she really was the "barefoot diva." Her voice filled the auditorium, and it seemed to pierce through the roof to fill the skies above.

She died today in her native town of Mindelo, on the island of São Vicente, in Cabo Verde.

The queen of "morna" music was a heavy cigarette smoker and drinker (as you can see in the video above). She retired in September in ill health, apologizing to her fans. She underwent open-heart surgery in 2008, and survived multiple strokes; her death today was related to those health problems. Two days of national mourning have been declared in her home country.

Obituaries: AP, Rolling Stone, NPR, Guardian, BBC video.

More: Wikipedia, Amazon discography.

The song embedded above, "Sodade," is probably her most famous, and her first global hit. The lyrics are worth a read if you don't understand Portuguese.

(via @rawkreative).

Photo: Evora in 2000, REUTERS/Andrew Winning


  1. She was a great singer, and her music lives on. 
    I work at a place where we have listened to her regularly (specifically “Cafe Atlantico”)for many years.  I found her voice to be warm and inviting.

  2. Aww, man.  What a bummer of a way to end the day.  I, too, was lucky enough to see her live maybe a dozen years ago.  It was a wonderful show all the way around– the musicians with her were phenomenal, she was so charming, and though it sounds totally corndog, it was a genuinely communal experience.  I’ve seen more great live shows than any one person has a right to in a single lifetime.  But I can only think of two or three that matched the sense of rapture the entire audience felt that night.  

  3. Just a quick note to say that Cesária Évora didn’t sing in Portuguese but in Cape-Verdean Creole…

  4. nooooo. truly sad to hear. I remember the first time I heard her voice, I was working in a small restaurant and one of her songs came on. I fell in love right away and just had to know who was singing. been a fan since then. sad to see her go.

  5. The tragedy isn’t in having died; this is someting that can’t really be helped.  The tragedy is in not having lived.

    Cesaria Evora truly lived.  And she was loved and she died knowing she was loved all around the world.  It’s not all bad.

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