Following Her Bare Footsteps
with Lucibela, Elida Almeida, 

Nancy Vieira, Teófilo Chantre  

Sunday, April 23, 2023
Berklee Performance Center


Humberto Ramos - Piano

Danielson Fonesca - Guitar

José Antonio Soares - Cavaquinho

José Paris - Bass

Periclès Paris - Percussion

Vincent Raymond - Trumpet

Albon Chapelle - Saxophone


Elida Sofia Cabral Almeida was born in Pedra Bajejo in the eastern part of Santiago Island in Cape Verde. She spent her childhood years in difficult circumstances in the mountains of Santiago. By the age of 17, she was singing at church and listening to the radio. She worked on radio commentaries, especially with DJs and performers. She started writing the album that would contain “Nta Konsiqui,” which became a viral hit. She later performed at local concerts and sang at bars in Cape Verde, where she started her career. The producer José da Silva, a resident of France with Cape Verdean roots who had previously worked with Cesária Évora, was interested in her career. Almeida’s style is different from most famous Cape Verdean morna-coladeras singers. She is more influenced by funaná and batuque, rhythms created by deserted slaves decades ago, but she has a distinctive style of expression.  

Two years later, she made her first album, Ora Doci, Ora Margos. In 2014 she performed in Portugal and France, officially debuting later, during 2015, in France at the festival Musiques Métisses in Angoulême. She then went on to take the stage in Paris and the United States in the same month. In November 2015, she was designated a laureate at the RFI awards, honored by a jury chaired by Malian singer Oumou Sangaré. She performed mainly on the African continent even at the start of the Festival des Musiques Urbaines d'Anoumabo (Anoumabo Urban Music Festival) in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. Elida Almeida was present at the 2016 Cabo Verde Music Awards, together with Hélio Batalha. A month later, she went to the 10th edition of JazzKif, the Kinshasa Jazz Festival. 

Lucibela Freitas Dos Santos was born in 1986 in São Nicolau, one of the Barlavento (Windward) Islands, in the north of the archipelago. She released her first album, Laço Umbilical, in 2018, commemorating connection to the land of one’s birth. In thirteen songs, Lucibela explores being a woman, being Cape Verdean, living far away, and loving carnally and with grace. Lucibela's magic lies in her ability to explore low notes like the great Brazilian sambistas and add a thrilling vibrato. Her songs are drawn from tradition, composed by great elders like Manuel de Novas or by the next generation (Jorge Humberto, Betu). Lucibela, like Elida Almeida, who sings two of the songs, belongs to a new, uninhibited generation. These young women seize the guitars, the cavaquinho, the saxophone, the accordion, the violin, and all the shambles of the islands to pass the music along to the generation of users of electronic devices and watchers of television. Lucibela exudes an intriguing intensity, merging pure feeling with daring audacity. 

The arrangements and the musical direction of Laço Umbilical were entrusted to the delicate equilibrist Toy Vieira, accomplice of Cesária Évora (and of Portuguese singer Lura). Lucibela grew up in São Vicente, whose port, Mindelo, is famous in more ways than one. The city was home to one of the first high schools in the Portuguese colonies, where Amilcar Cabral, the father of independence in 1975, studied. Widowed and a state pensioner, Lucibela's mother, concerned about her children's schooling, moved to Mindelo and enrolled her children in high school. Lucibela loves to sing, and Mindelo has also been a musical paradise since Brazilian, Cuban, English, and Portuguese sailors sowed the seeds there of the morna and the coladera, Creole and mixed genres, disseminated throughout the world by one of its illustrious performers, Cesária Évora, a native of Mindelo. When Lucibela’s mother died, depriving the family of all resources, Lucibela was in high school but had to find a way to make money. The teenager had a gift, her voice. She loved bossa nova, of course, but also listened to Brazilian pop on the radio. She founded a group with friends who, like her, preferred jazz and rock to traditional genres. Lucibela understood that singing in the hotels and bars of Mindelo, where the customers, including tourists, demanded local songs, would provide her with a living. She therefore tackled the repertoire of Cesária Évora, starting with “Nutridinha,” a coladera joyfully celebrating dissipated young girls. She joined the Mindel Som group, then left for the island of Sal, where she reinvented the profession of hotel singer, notably at Morabeza. She was offered a contract on the island of sand dunes, Boa Vista. She learned, she says, and she worked a lot, practicing vocal technique, the repertoire, and the secrets of seduction on stage. 

Moving to Praia, the capital, in 2012, she met Kaku Alves, who was Cesária Évora's guitarist for almost 15 years. She sang at the Quintal da Musica, participated in the Talento Estrela and Estrela Pop television competitions, and reached the finals. To be closer to her family and her daughter, she moved to Lisbon. To learn more and keep her hand in, and because singing is an intimate sharing, she continues to sing in the squares, in the street. And when she says it, she gently lights up with a smile of pleasure. 

Nancy Vieira was born in 1975 in Bissau, where her parents had joined Amilcar Cabral, the leader of the struggle for independence in Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. Cabral was assassinated in 1973, just before Portugal’s colonial period ended with the Carnation Revolution in April 1974. Cape Verde gained independence in 1975. Four months after Nancy’s birth, the Vieira family moved to Praia, Cape Verde’s new capital on Santiago, one of the archipelago’s ten islands. Born to this newly won liberty, she would acquire a strong sense of identity on her political and artistic journey. Her father, an amateur musician, guitarist, and violinist, became Minister of Transport and Communication in the new government. Ten years later, he returned to Mindelo, the busy, metropolitan port on the island of São Vicente, where he acted as the governor of the northern Barlavento (Windward) Islands. 

When Nancy Vieira was fourteen, her father was appointed Cape Verdean ambassador to Portugal, “which took in the French representation, so he went to present his letters of credence to President François Mitterrand,” explains the young woman, who has lived in Lisbon ever since. Vieira studied management and sociology at the University of Lisbon. One evening, she accompanied a friend to a song contest he had entered. Heard humming along, she was asked to sing, and she performed B. Leza’s “Lua Nha Testemunha” for the judges. She won. The prize was the chance to record an album for the now defunct Disco Norte label. The record was called Nos Raça (1996). Taking time to have a daughter and look after her, Nancy released her second album, Segred, eight years later, in 2004. Then Lus came out in 2007. In 2011, Nancy worked with pianist and artistic director Nando Andrade and released No Amá, the album that revealed her to an international audience. The record won over music lovers orphaned by Cesária Évora, from Poland to Greece, the Baltic States to Italy, and the Netherlands to Russia. 

In the days of Portuguese colonial rule, São Vicente secondary school was an intellectual melting pot attended by the poet, morna writer, and brilliant politician Amilcar Cabral. Nancy Vieira studied there too, absorbing the background sounds of the port of Mindelo: the Brazilians, Maria Bethania, Caetano Veloso, and Angela Maria; fado; mornas; coladeras; British pop; Cuban rumba; and so on. Mindelo was the scene of this musical fusion and home to Cesária Évora (1941–2011). Herculano Vieira, Nancy’s father, had been a captain in the merchant navy and had played with Cesária in his youth, “before the struggle,” says Nancy. “I found that out in June 2011 when I was recording my album in Mindelo. It was the first time I’d been to see Cesária at her home, and she asked me, ‘How is Herculano?’ I found that moving. He’d never said a word about it.” 

Nancy Vieira is not precisely akin to Cesária Évora, although their repertoires and musical associations coincide. Their styles are different, though. Vieira’s voice is direct and clear compared to the sultry heat of the “Barefoot Diva.” The two have little in common in terms of personality, social background, and life story. Yet what connects them is the secret affinity of Cape Verdeans for their music, which straddles the West and Africa: a music of ocean crossings and Creole culture. 

In 1992 Teófilo Chantré joined the list of great African composers and singer-songwriters who took a planetary leap thanks to the extraordinary rise of Cape Verdean diva Cesária Évora, for whom he wrote many of her best songs. The writing of the lyrics to "Ausencia," with music by Goran Bregovic, became the star theme of the album Miss Perfumado, and, a little later, it was included in the soundtrack of Underground, the film by Emir Kusturika. At that moment, Teófilo Chantré's prestige as a songwriter was exponentially amplified. Between traditional Cape Verdean rhythms, seasoned with a few drops of jazz, a touch of bolero, a spoonful of Latin music, and a glass of bossa nova, Teófilo Chantré cooks his particular musical menu and his personal way of singing, unique in the panorama of the morna and the coladera, musical styles native to Cape Verde on which the Portuguese imprint is clear. 

Born in 1964 in San Nicolau, he moved, when he was just a year old, to San Vicente, a city where he spent his entire childhood living with his grandparents until, at the age of 14, he moved to Paris, the residence of his mother and, since that year, also his city. His aesthetic cadence is the product of his creative talent and his excellent taste as a guitarist but is also a consequence of his more than 25 years of residence in France.A romantic poet, his songs deal with childhood and love, about sodade  (nostalgia), youth, and everyday life, with its struggles and troubles, but also about his successes and charms. A few months after the release of meStissage, the collection of songs performed in Cape Verdean and French, Teófilo Chantré plans to launch it starting in April and through the Lusáfrica label. It is an album full of beauty, poetry, humanity, honesty, and good taste. 

Viajá, recorded in Cape Verde, is the penultimate musical effort by Teófilo Chantré, a profoundly beautiful album built together with some of the most important musicians in that country today (Bau and the young guitarist Hernani Almeida), a group of songs that radiate peace, joy, and flavor. Published at the end of 2007 through the Lusáfrica label, it benefits from the participation of new Cape Verdean diva Mayra Andrade. In 2004 and again for the Lusáfrica label, he released his fifth solo work, Azulando, an album containing 13 new compositions. As the author himself indicates: “Blue is a color that is inextricably linked to sodade. It's not really a concept album as some of the songs were written over 15 years ago." 

It is worth noting the participation of two of the greatest contemporary African musicians: Cesária Évora and Bonga. Teófilo Chantré is a music lover in love, among others, with Cuban and Brazilian music, influences that become evident and permeate Rodatempo, his third solo album and a continuation of his two previous works: Terra & Cretcheu and Di Alma. Teófilo Chantré sings eleven of the twelve songs on the album, some solo and others in duet with his father, Vitorino Chantré. Teófilo Chantré is an elegant and sophisticated musician considered the greatest composer, arranger, and singer of Cape Verde today. Many of his compositions are Cape Verdean musical heritage and authentic banners of universal popular music. He has toured all over the world.  


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