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The musical traditions of Cape Verde are extended through the original songs of the nine-piece ensemble Simientra. Led by six-stringed guitar, harmonica, accordion, and percussion player, as well as soprano singer and songwriter Mario Lucio Sousa, the group has added a new dimension to the musical traditions of their homeland. While their songs reflect on potentially depressing issues, the joviality of their music is evident. In a late-'90s interview, Sousa explained, "We are melancholic but it is a happy melancholy. We sing with our souls but our singing is not sad. If it invites you to cry, then it means crying for beauty." Formed in early 1992, Simientera represented Cape Verde at the Expo in Seville a few months later. The following year, they appeared at the Olympia in Paris as the supporting act for influential songstress Cesaria Evora. Their debut album, Raiz (Root), was released a few months before their attention-garnering performance at a concert celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the independence of Green Cabo. Members of Simientera include attorneys, architects, and doctors. In the late '90s, the group established the Simientera Foundation, which includes a cultural center, a music school for children, and a CD store to promote Cape Verdean artists.