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Because 2005 Cape Verdian Artist of the Year Maria De Barros is singing sensually and exquisitely in her native language, it's likely that American world music fans will have to intuit what she's communicating via the emotional intimacy of her graceful ballads ("Mundo Malvado," "Nha Vazio") and her high spirited, celebratory vibe on the infectious set's fiery rolling and rhythmic numbers ("Funana Ca Tem Frontera," "Cabinda a Cunene"). Another way to get into her mindset — and better understand why she was awarded the 2008 recipient of the Cultural Certificate of Merit by CV's Ministry of Culture — is to reflect on the deeper meaning of the album's title, Morabeza. Simply stated, it's a sublime Creole expression that characterizes the soul of a people; it is solidarity in time of misfortune (and who couldn't use a little of that in 2009?); kindness, tenderness, hospitality, sympathy, and friendship. The songs speak to the past and present in its colorful, graceful, yet often grooving production, integrating a repertoire of songs composed by revered songwriters such as Manuel d'Novas, Betu, Kaka Barbosa, Jorge Barbosa, Teofilo Chantre, and Ramiro Mendes, as well as newer talent: To Alves, Calu di Guida, Joe Andrade, Kalu Monteiro, and Djim Job. While describing her music as a potpourri of African, Latin, and European styles, the sounds on this collection — which she recorded with the L.A. Philharmonic String Section and some very prominent backing musicians — are at heart rooted in the musical traditions of her homeland. While defining a much needed optimism in the face of suffering and hardship in Africa, De Barros on Morabeza keeps alive the wonderful legacy bestowed upon her by her godmother, legendary "barefoot diva," Césaria Evora, who put the music of Cape Verde on the global jukebox.

Morabeza, Maria De Barros
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