Playlist: Essential Cabo Verde
On Thursday, February 14, singer-songwriter-guitarist Tcheka brings his unique mix of traditional and 21st-century Cape Verdean sounds to the David Rubenstein Atrium, presented in partnership with Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center. In advance of the free show, we invited artist, curator, DJ, and ethnomusicologist Marcy DePina to share some of her Cape Verdean essentials.
"Petit Pays" by Cesária Évora
Cesária Évora, affectionately known around the world as the "Barefoot Diva" is the reigning queen of Cabo Verdean music and hails from Mindelo, São Vicente. No playlist of music from Cabo Verde is complete without the inclusion of Cesária, who helped put the traditional styles of morna and coladeira on the map, and was the first (and only) musician from the Islands to win a Grammy Award.
"Agonia" by Tcheka
Tcheka is a singer-songwriter who was born into a musical family and raised in the countryside of the island of Santiago, where he accompanied his father, Nho Raul Andrade, a famous violinist to play at weddings, baptisms, funerals, and festivals. Influenced by the traditional style of batuko, Tcheka transposed the percussive rhythms onto his guitar, creating his own unique style.
"Manga" by Mayra Andrade
Mayra Andrade was born in Cuba, but was raised between Cabo Verde (on the island of Santiago) and Senegal, Angola, and Germany. In her youth, she was trained as a protégé of the revolutionary composer Orlando Pantera. Since making her debut, the multilingual Mayra has been an important fixture of the "Nova Gerason" (New Generation) of musicians of Cabo Verde with her sultry voice and exquisite sound, which pushes boundaries with her modern interpretations of classic Cabo Verdean styles.
"Pilonkan" by Princezito
Princezito is a guitarist and composer and part of the New Generation of musicians from Cabo Verde. Born in Tarrafal, Santiago, Princezito spent eight years living in Cuba, exploring Afro-Cuban music and perfecting his unique style. A storyteller who uses batuko, finason, and other styles, Princezito uses his music to tell stories of the people and history of Cabo Verde.
"Ginga" by Sara Tavares
Sara Tavares was born in Lisbon, Portugal, of Cabo Verdean parents. Since showing musical promise at the age of 16 on the televised Eurovision Song competition, Sara's star has continued to rise, as she charms audiences with her whimsical and effortless style. Mixing elements of music from Cabo Verde, other Portuguese-speaking African nations, and jazz, Sara is a force in the New Generation of Cabo Verdean musicians.
"Dança ma mi criola" by Tito Paris
Tito Paris was born in Mindelo, São Vicente, to a musical family, and has had a career that spans over three decades recording and performing traditional styles of morna, coladeira, mazurka, and funaná. One of the greatest voices of Cabo Verde, Tito has worked with seminal Cabo Verdean musicians such as Bau, Luis Morais, Bana, and Cesária Évora.
"Nhu Santiago" by Elida Almeida
Elida Almeida was born in Pedra Badejo in the countryside of Santiago, where she cultivated the musical styles of funaná, batuko, and tabanka, which are indigenous to her island. Since her first album release in 2014, Elida has quickly gained prominence as a stellar performer with a powerful voice. Collaborating with guitarist Hernani Almeida, bassist Nelly Cruz, keyboardist Diego Gomes, and drummer Magik Santiago, Elida brings a youthful vibe to traditional genres that tell the stories of Cabo Verdean life.
"Bandera Liberdade" by Ferro Gaita
Since 1996 the group Ferro Gaita has been a fixture of Cabo Verdean music celebrating the styles of funaná, finason, and tabanka from the island of Santiago. Their infectious performance style has made them a beloved representation of the culture of Cabo Verde and a favorite at major festivals both in the Islands and around the world.
"Tunuca" by Os Tubarões
Os Tubarões is one of the most important and well-known traditional bands from Cabo Verde. Born in the capital city of Praia, Santiago, and led by vocalist Ildo Lobo, the group plays funaná, tabanka, morna, and coladeira, and has created some of the most important songs related to the independence of Cabo Verdeans and the national identity.
"Porton de Regresso" by The Mendes Brothers
The Mendes Brothers immigrated to the United States from the island of Fogo and have worked tirelessly to promote the music and culture of Cabo Verde. Brothers John and Ramiro use their music as a way to reconnect Africans in the Diaspora back to Africa and to inspire unity and understanding through the medium of sound.
"El e Sabim" by Grace Evora
Grace Evora was born in Mindelo, São Vicente, and from an early age showed talent as a singer and drummer. After immigrating to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Grace got his first touch of musical success when he joined the monumental group Livity. Since then, he has played with noteworthy groups the Rabelados, Koladance, Cabo Verde Show, and Splash!, and broke out as a solo artist playing fusion styles in the '90s that combine Cabo Verdean traditions with the contemporary genres of zouk, kizomba, and hip-hop.
"Regadera" by Maria de Barros
Maria de Barros was born in Dakar, Senegal, of Cabo Verdean parents with roots in the island of Brava. Since the age of 11, Maria has lived in the United States, and since the beginning of her career, she has been an ambassador of Cabo Verdean cultures in the Americas and around the world. Composing and performing with the phenomenal trio of Kalu Monteiro on drums, Djim Job on bass, and ZeRui de Pina on guitar and cavaquinho, de Barros performs the classic genres of morna and coladeira and expands the sounds with flavors of reggae and Latin styles.
Marcy S. DePina is a DJ, radio personality, artist, and student of ethnomusicology who has built her career around the music and culture of Cabo Verde. Born and raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts, with roots in the island of Brava, Cabo Verde, Marcy resides in Newark, New Jersey, and has produced Cabo Verdean music events for over 16 years. Since 2005, Marcy has worked as a DJ and radio host of the weekly show FORSA! which airs every Tuesday from 6:00 to 8:00 PM EST on Newark.FM and CrioloRadio.