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Distino di Belita

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Album Review

This might just be appearing in the U.S., but don't be fooled into thinking it's a new album from the diva of Cape Verde. Instead, it dates from 1974, Césaria Évora's first musical period (a year later, she quit music for a decade). The elements of her future style are there, with the sweet sadness of the morna. But it's largely unformed — the maturity that makes her later work so compelling hasn't arrived yet. There's also an attempt to give a sheen to the sound that simply doesn't suit her voice, to make it more European than it really is — and even then, more Paris than the soulful fado of Lisbon's back streets. Still, it's impossible to deny what she brings to songs like the title cut and "Pontero," although the piano bar version of "Nova Sintra" should probably be avoided like the proverbial plague. When an artist becomes successful, their more youthful work is often dragged out. But with "Evora," it's not to her embarrassment; in 1974 she wasn't the grand artist she'd become, but she wasn't at all bad. More than just for completists, this offers an excellent snapshot for all who are interested in hearing the roots of her sound.


Born: August 27, 1941 in Mindelo, Cape Verde

Genre: World

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A native of the island nation of Cape Verde, Cesária Évora was known as the country's foremost practitioner of the morna, which is strongly associated with the islands and combines West African percussion with Portuguese fados, Brazilian modhinas, and British sea shanties. Évora began singing morna at age 16 after meeting an attractive young guitarist. Her talent soon had her performing all over the islands, and in the late '60s two of her radio tapes were released as albums in the Netherlands and...
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Distino di Belita, Cesária Évora
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