If we know anything of Cape Verdean music, it is largely due to the efforts of one man: Jose DaSilva, founder of the Lusafrica label, and producer of the late great Cesaria Evora.
Since that diva's death, there have been many singers touted as having "inherited the mantle of Cesaria Evora." What attracted me to the PR announcing Neuza's set at was that this phrase was nowhere in sight, and instead stressed her roots in the island of Fogo, and her mastery of its specific musical repertoire. When I sat down with Mr. DaSilva, he made it quite clear that his interest, beyond her being an excellent singer, was this repertoire.
I expected a somewhat bare bones acoustic presentation from this, but as soon as I walked into sound check, I heard a fully electrified band warming up. The signature cavaquino (Portuguese ukulele) was there, but so was a synthesizer and a full kit. So the house filled up, the band took their places and Neuza started to sing.
First up: she's a natural, a wonderful singer. She may have sung the first song, "Cuidado Na Bu Bida" (presented here) in a gently sweet voice, but I can assure you, she was just warming up and further down the road, she employed a steely high chest tone. And this song is a coladeira, a typical Cape Verdean dance probably descended from morna, the most well-known song form from the islands, and not one of the songs specific to Fogo. But if, as I suspect you are not an expert on Cape Verdean music, dear reader, just give a listen to this lilting and lovely song which philosophizes about how to deal with the vicissitudes of life. And maybe dance a bit.
The house was packed with Cape Verdeans, who knew almost every song and soon dance partners were found, and all were stepping and subtly swaying to an island rhythm. It was an early set beginning at 7:30, and SOBs usually gets its groove on around midnight, but it was obvious that this audience would have been there for the whole night, if Neuza had continued to sing.
For more about Neuza, visit here.
For more about Lusafrica, visit here.
For another song by Neuza, and more world music videos, visit here.
My thanks to Molly Marcotte for third camera work.