What makes music great is that it knows no borders, and language or cultural barriers can’t hold it back from becoming a global phenomenon. Music from Cape Verde is a shining example as, in recent times, Cape Verdean music has gone mainstream.
It’s a long-established belief and fact that originality and honesty can take any idea to places. However, something truly original doesn’t come out of the blue. It takes decades, sometimes centuries, until we realize and experience something wonderful and original. Cape Vedean music is one such creation that mesmerizes music lovers after going mainstream.
We will talk about the different types of Cape Verde music and top musicians and will definitely share some popular Cape Verdean songs.
Cape Verde is an island country in the Central Atlantic Ocean under Portuguese rule for 515 years and gained independence in 1975. After the 18th century, things took a turn when most of the Cape Verdians became the Atlantic diaspora that moved between Europe, Africa, and the Americas.
Throughout the centuries, Cape Verdian music stayed true to its original roots just like other social, cultural, and political fabrics of life. However, influences happen when a country is under colonial rule for a long time. This influence is evident in Cape Verde music, where you can hear the Portuguese flavor, too.
There are many types of Cape Verde music. Some are old, some are new. Some music is traditionalist, and some music has taken its cues from the Portuguese and other cultures. We will discuss some of the music associated with Cape Verde below.
Morna is a soulful and melancholic genre about love, longing, and nostalgia. It is connected to the Portuguese fado and sounds blue in spirit. The name morna is derived from the English verb “to mourn,” and the music is filled with a Sodadea. Sodadea is a Portuguese word that describes a sense of melancholy. Cesária Évora, known as the “Barefoot Diva,” was a famous Morna singer.
Coladeria is the opposite of Morna as it is a lively and rhythmic style combining African and European influences. The Caladeria music, due to its catchy melodies and danceable beats, is played frequently at social gatherings and parties. Ana Fermino is one of the famous Coladeria singers.
Funana takes inspiration from traditional Cape Verde rhythms. It is an energetic and percussive genre with strong African roots. It’s often accompanied by accordion and ferrinho (an iron bar), and its lively tempo encourages dancing. It is no surprise that the Funana influences a lot of Cape Verde dance music.
Some other styles, like Batuque, Colá, Lusafrica, and Tabanka are famous. Each type has its own outreach, fan following, and popular Cape Verde songs, which we will share below.
If you are wondering why Cape Verde music is famous, we have already discussed how influences and amalgam of culture and history give birth to some original music and artists. We will now discuss the top 10 musicians from Cape Verde and the music from Cape Verde.
Cesária Évora is one of the famous Cape Verdean singers as her music popularized the Cape Verdean music worldwide. She is also known as the “Barefoot Diva,” as she used to perform barefoot, a sight that is also popular these days. She received a Grammy Award in 2004 for her album Voz d’Amor.
Évora is famous for singing the Morna, a traditional Cape Verdean genre known for its melancholy and introspective themes. Morna’s genre and rich and textured voice allowed her to share emotions that resonated with global audiences.
Her first album, “La Diva aux pieds nus” (The Barefoot Diva), released in 1988, made her an international star. Cesária Évora had a significant effect on Cape Verdean music. She became a symbol of Cape Verdean culture and pride as Cape Verdians look at her as the biggest inspiration. You can also watch a documentary about her inspirational life, which was released in 2022.
If you want a blend of traditional Cape Verdean music with contemporary influences, listen to the Cobras de Sol. The group was formed in 1994 and is known for blending Cape Verdian genres like Morna and Coladeira with modern instrumentation and arrangements.
In Cape Verde, they are recognized for preserving Sant’Anton Creole expressions, a dying dialect back then. Therefore, the Sant’Anton Creole dialect has quite a presence in their singing. One of the modern Cape Verde bands who made Cape Verdian music famous played intricate guitar and melodic vocals.
Cordas de Sol released several albums, with the last “Marijoana” released in 2018. One of the celebrated boy bands from the island that continues to inspire youngsters to not shy about experimenting. You can listen to their Cape Verde music on YouTube or Spotify.
Music knows no boundaries, and Jorge Neto’s music is precisely known for that. He is one of the top Cape Verde musicians famous for Zouk music. Zouk is a genre that has its roots in the French Caribbean and combines elements of Caribbean rhythms and African influences.
He is not only famous in Cape Verde but across the African diaspora and beyond. He released seven studio albums, with the first album as self-titled in the 1990s. One of the famous Cape Verdian musicians who contributed to the Zouk music and Cape Verde music.
Elida Almeida is one of the contemporary Cape Verde musicians. There is an influence of Funana and Batuque in her music. She released her first album, Ora doci, Ora Margos, in 2014 and her latest album, Di Lonji, on 27 January 2023.
She is famous for blending traditional Cape Verdean music styles like Morna and Batuque with modern elements like pop and jazz. Over the years, Elida Almeida has regularly toured the world, especially France, Portugal, and America. She will be performing in Poland and France later in 2023.
As discussed above, Cape Verdian music has gone global because of its diaspora, and Mayra Andrade is a prime example. She was born in Cuba to her Cape Verdian parents and now lives in Lisbon, Portugal.
Mayra is multilingual, which is evident in her lyrics, but she mostly sings in the Cape Verdean Crioulo language. She released her first album, Navega, in 2006 and has released many albums since. Mayra is also involved with charity work, as the proceeds from her album sales and tours are given to fight AIDS/HIV and related health and social issues.
She is one of the famous Cape Verde musicians who regularly releases music and performs in concerts worldwide. If you want to enjoy the music from Cape Verde, she should be on your listening list.
Nelson Freitas is another diaspora singer born in the Netherlands to Cape Verdean parents. He is an R&B singer primarily but blends it with the Zouk genre. Before his collaborative work with the band, “Quatro Plus,” Nelson released his first solo album, “Magic,” in 2006.
Over the years, he has released many albums, with some of the songs from these albums generating millions of streams and views. One of the famous contemporary singers from Cape Verde who has been active for the past three decades and continues to produce famous Cape Verde music.
Djodje is a Cape Verdean singer-songwriter who lives in Portugal. He has been active on the Cape Verde music Djodje for the past two decades, and since then, he has 3 albums and several hit singles under his belt. The staggering numbers from YouTube show he has over 50 million views.
The influence of Cape Verdean music and Afropop is expressive in his music. Besides some single hits, he has been releasing solo albums regularly. His three solo albums are “…sempre TC”, “Check In,” “Feedback,” “NewBorn,” and “Mininu Di Orou .”One of the top Cape Verde musicians who successfully blends different genres of Cape Verde music with modern Afro beats and electropop.
Teófilo Chantre is a Cape Verdean musician and composer. He first met the famous Cape Verde singer Cesária Évorain in the 1990s after a concert where both performed. Shortly after, their decades-long collaboration started until the death of Cesária Évorain. Since then, he has been producing his own recordings.
His personal music is rooted in Morna, but he also infuses Coladeira, Funaná, and other Cape Cape Verdean genres. A voice with a velvety and husky texture has made him famous in Cape Verde and internationally. So far, he has released 6 albums. If you are also excited to explore music from Cape Verde, Chantre should be your second choice. The first choice is Cesária Évorain, of course.
Dino D’Santiago is a Cape Verdean singer of Portuguese descent known for his innovative blend of Cape Verdean traditional music, R&B, soul, funk, and electronic elements. Although he was born in Portugal to Cape Verdean parents, he has a deep connection to his Cape Verdean heritage, which is evident in his music. He sings in Cape Verdean Creole, a Cape Verdean dialect.
He has released 4 albums so far, but “Mundu Nôbu” took Cape Verdean music to a new level. His incorporation of contemporary production while staying true to the traditional Cape Verde rhythms and melodies announced him as a global star of Cape Verde music. He was Man of The Year In The Music category for the GQ Portugal and was featured in the Rolling Stone.
Nancy Vieira was born four months after Cape Verde’s independence. After spending her childhood years in Cape Verde, she moved to Portugal and now lives in Lisbon. She used to play locally and participate in local competitions. After practicing and learning music in Lisobon for a long time, she released her first album, Nôs Raça, in 1995. Over the years, she released five more albums and many singles.
She has toured the United States, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, performing regularly in Cape Verde and Portugal. She fuses rhythmic music from Cape Verde, and one can also feel the influence of Caribbean and Brazillian music. One of the top Cape Verde musicians from the late 1990s who has released many popular Cape Verdean songs.
Cape Verde’s music is dynamic and multicultural. We may associate it with Cape Verde, but it fuses many cultures and countries. The reason is that Cape Verde’s music is diaspora in nature. However, Cape Verde’s music is deeply rooted in traditionalism, and the Cape Vedean musical instruments are the driving nature of music.
It is no surprise that Cape Verde musicians’ fusion and experimentation have helped introduce their country and music to the world through soft power that some bigger populations of countries can only dream of.
If you are also interested in listening to music from Cape Verde, you should definitely listen to the artists mentioned above and other popular Cape Verdean songs. Below if a Cape Verdean Spotify playlist to make it easier.
Let us know your favorites!
If you loved this post and would like more international music, check out the Cultural Reads music page.
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