Cesaria Evora, ‘The Barefoot Diva,’ Dead at 70

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Maybe you never understood her lyrics.

But you can’t say it really mattered.  Cesaria Evora, the ‘Barefoot Diva’ who brought her soulful Cape Verde, Creole-languaged music to the world, passed away this weekend.  She was 70.

The news first emerged from Lusafrica, Evora’s label, though few details are currently available.  We do know that Evora was suffering a number of health complications heading into this, including a recent, open-heart surgery.  She passed away at Baptista de Sousa Hospital in Mindelo, in Sao Vicente of her native Cape Verde.  “May she rest in peace,” her label simply remarked.

Evora started her career in the 50s, singing in Cape Verde bars, the only female in an otherwise male group.  Regarded as a sort of ‘Billie Holiday of Africa,’ Evora eventually started recording in Lisbon to broaden her audience.

But global recognition turned out to be a slow, acquired taste, and it took seemingly forever for this story to develop.  Cesaria’s music only really started resonating in the 80s, when the singer started recording in Paris in her late 40s.  By 2004, Evora had won a Grammy for her release, Voz d’Amor.