[an error occurred while processing this directive] George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | R.I.P. Cesária Évora: ‘Barefoot Diva’ Was The Queen of Cape Verdean Blues


Sundays 8pm to 11pm on Radio 2

New Episodes at CBC Music

New Episodes at CBC Music

Need more Strombo Show? Head over to our page on CBC Music for new episodes, playlists and video extras.

CBC Music Past Shows



R.I.P. Cesária Évora: ‘Barefoot Diva’ Was The Queen of Cape Verdean Blues
December 17, 2011
submit to reddit

Like Billie Holiday, with whom she was most often compared, Cesária Évora rose from poverty, sang in bars as a teenager and was possessed of a languid, honeyed voice that moved millions. Évora, who won a Grammy in 2003 after taking the music of the African islands of Cape Verde to stages around the world, died Saturday. She was 70.

Known as the 'Barefoot Diva' because she performed without shoes (in solidarity with the poverty-stricken children of her homeland), Évora was the cigarette-puffing queen of the traditional music of Cape Verde, a former Portuguese colony off the west coast of Africa. Her songs, which she sang mostly in Portuguese creole, focused on hardship and heartbreak and hitched West African rhythms to Brazilian samba and British sea shanties. She began singing at 16 in sailors' bars and recorded her first album in 1988, when she was 47.

Évora underwent open-heart surgery last year, and retired from singing in September after suffering a stroke.

Her voice was unique: feather-light, yet weighed down with emotion - turning the lives of the downtrodden into songs of hope. Chain-smoking aside, she never put a bare foot wrong:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.