The Filipino attendant was organizing the newspapers that had arrived with the flight from Paris. Le Monde, Liberation, Le Figaro, the cynical newspaper wity funny cartoons, Le Canard du Chaines..etc. I caught a glimpse of a picture of Cesaria Evora under Culture and I took a copy of Liberation dated 19/12/2011 to read. I was absorbed in the details fo ehr life given in a box that I didnt pay attention to the headlines of the article.
1994 London. A flat in Knightsbridge. An Afternoon. Making Tea. Listening to a London World Music Station.
Sodade, sodade... a voice came over, I had never heard before..
I have known that word, as Saudade, almost all of my conscious life, in fact it has to be my favourite word from non English language...which I can translate for you as.. Missing something evern before you have ever had it.. Tem Saudade por tudo.. I have Saudade for everything.. a fitting epitaph on someones tomb?
But this lady , singing in an unusual rhythm, was pronouncing it Sodade.. the announcer was clearly very enthusiastic about this relatively new voice in World Music..
It was Cesaria Evora from Cabo Verde and she was singing in the creole of native island Nation, Cabo Verde. Years later I would be discussing Cabo Verdean Music- mornas, coladeras.. Cesaria, Bana, Bau, Jovinho dos Santos, Ildo Lobo.. with the CV ambassador to Cuba! (Cuba has one of their seven embassies)
Why this three page spread on Cesaria Evora on this french newspaper, under the title Culture?
then I caught the headline...
..aged 70, Cesaria Evora, died in Mindelo, in Sao Vicente on Saturday 17/12/2011
My heart sank and I felt an incredible surge of sadness..
Mar Azul.. Sao Vicente de Longe... Petite Pays.. and the album she recorded in La Habana Cuba, Besamo Mucho..
I cannot begin to tell you the endless hours of pleasure those CDs gave me, CDs imported into London and sold at Steins record store.. and I talked about her music to any friend who would listen.. in Baracoa, my friends listened to Cesaria.. whenever they came to my house.. In Habana, many were familiar with Cesaria, having seen her in one of her annual visits to the island she loved.. Our Own Negrita Mamacita..
Her music has a special quality of lifting ones spirits up.. Why be sad, if you can listen to Cesaria, chain smoking, rum loving lover of Life who never took seriously her fame, made her home in her impoverished islands, toured the world, sang as she knew she was the best? She grew up under the Portugese without shoes (La Diva pied nuis).. three children with vagabond lovers and a liberated woman, free and ahead of her time..
Cabo Verde, a dry land, not green, exploited and then neglected by the Portugese, emigrantes...the creole community in Massachusetts who considered themselves white not african .. the jazz pianist Horace Silver..
This flight is about to take off from EWR to CDG. I am glad to be going home and on this flight I will listen to Cesaria Evora on my ipod touch, a playlist called Cesaria Evora which contains most of her Cs, which over the years I have come to acquire.
Muito obrigado por esses momentos maravilhosos, tao belos, com sua música, sua voz, sua presença