MAYRA ANDRADE / “Regasu”
“There's a new generation, and I'm just a piece of a puzzle. We sing and play traditional music from Cape Verde with influences from all over the world - soul, reggae, blues, samba.” —LuraSome critics have suggested that Lura is the potential successor to Cesaria. Born in Lisbon in 1975, the year of Cape Verde’s independence, Lura’s parents spoke Creole to each other and Portuguese to her. Lura learned her mother tongue from Cape Verdian friends at school. Lura did not actually go to Cape Verde until she was twenty-one. Lura started her career as an actress and dancer. Her debut album was a modernized R&B and zouk influenced affair. She even joined Cesaria as a back up singer. In 2004 Lura released Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul). That’s when the succession talk started. Lura’s current release, M’bem Di Fora (I’ve Come From Far Away) is a beautiful summation of her contemporary music that is built on the different rhythms and styles of the islands. “Pensa Dret,” “Ponciana,” “Choro” and “As-Agua” are all taken from M’Bem di Fora.
"It wasn't interesting for me to sing the way everyone else did. I'd lived in different countries with different music and rhythms, smells and colours, and all that influenced the way I imagined the music I wanted to make. And I really wanted to do something for the music of my country. “Cape Verdean culture is very important to me and young people like me. In our parents' generation, independence wasn't wanted by everyone. But I feel African and people my age are proud of their Africanness. These ideas are really changing in my generation." —Mayra AndradeMayra Andrade was born 1985 in Cuba of Cape Verdean parents but grew up traveling between Senegal, Angola, Germany and Cape Verde. Since 2003 she has been living in Paris. Similar to Lura, Mayra builds her modern sounds on a firm foundation of Cape Verdean musical traditions. There is something so strong in Cape Verdean culture that even its children who are born elsewhere feel umbilicaled to the ten stone islands dotting Africa’s West Coast. Mayra’s lyrics are literary gems (go to her website to read English translations). You will be surprised by the complexity of both style and content. “Lapidu Na Bo,” “Navega,” “Domicransa” and “Regasu” are from Mayra debut album, Navega.
How deep is the ocean? That's how deep continental African music is. And when you kick in black music from the African diaspora, well let's just say it's the most diverse music on the planet. Now specifically this Cape Verde stuff has got me struggling to comprehend. It's not just variety, it's deep VARIETY and a blues hook-up and an appreciation of jazz and heaps of European influences all mixed up into something simultaneously sophisticated and yet traditional. I think it's partly political. A legacy of PAIGC influences pushing self-determination. One of Amilcar Cabral's major statements was: Return To The Source, meaning the everyday people. The laborers and local professionals, the farmers and peasants but also the doctors and professors. All the people. Go among them and learn what they know, on a serious tip.
* * *Mtume, your selection of Mayra Andrade's "Regasu" gives me an opportunity to share more information. First, check out this interview excerpt:
The articles about your career contained on your site (www.mayra-andrade.com) are full of praise for your voice and beauty. The correspondent of Ouest France compares you to the Cape Verdean diva Cesária Évora. What do you think of all this? I feel honored, because Cesária is a great woman and even today very few people have managed to do what she has for Cape Verde. Of course, I never forget Amílcar Cabral, who represented us very well throughout the world and fought for our independence. But I really feel proud to be compared to Cesária Évora, whom I love. You were born in Cuba, and you’ve lived in Cape Verde, Senegal, Angola and Germany. Now you live in Paris. Haven’t you ever felt the need to go out in search of your roots, to go back and live definitively in your country of origin? I’ve never interrupted the contact I have with Cape Verde ever since I went to live there, from six years of age until I finished high school. In the last years I’ve traveled a lot, but I always return to my country every year. But Cape Verde isn’t some far-off country where I go to look for my roots. I carry my roots with me everywhere I go and take them with my on all my travels. So could we conclude that you carry two cultures with you, one Cape Verdean and the other European? No, because Cape Verdean culture itself is a mixture of African and European culture. I don’t feel divided between Europe and Africa. I feel totally Cape Verdean, with everything that entails. But I’m also open to other cultures that were a part of my upbringing as well. This is why I perform Cape Verdean music with various different influences, with African rhythms but also with jazz, Brazilian music and other genres. Do you consider yourself a cultural ambassador of your country? What feelings do you have regarding your country of origin? With regards to your second question, I can affirm that the more time goes by, the more enamored I am with Cape Verde. I have the opportunity to go back to Cape Verde twice a year, and every time I return to the island of Santiago, the island where my mother was born, I try to understand people’s way of life and interpret what certain words mean. All this shows me the depth of this culture. The more we get to know Cape Verdean culture, the more in love we become with the country. As far as being a cultural ambassador is concerned, I think that all Cape Verdeans are the ambassadors of their country in one way or another. Every person is an ambassador through the activities that he or she develops. Ambassador is a word that has been applied to our diva Cesária Évora, but every individual should also transmit as faithfully as possible the soul of the Cape Verdena people. I think that this is my mission as well, and the title that goes along with it is not important. Cape Verde is a small country, but an extremely rich one in terms of culture. I try to show another facet of Cape Verdean music that is still relatively unknown in the world.
"Regasu" was written by Orlando Pantera. Here Mayra talks about his influence on her and why she included his song on her debut album.
"It wasn't interesting for me to sing the way everyone else did. I'd lived in different countries with different music and rhythms, smells and colours, and all that influenced the way I imagined the music I wanted to make. And I really wanted to do something for the music of my country. When I came back I started making little shows and asking people if I could sing at their place. And that's where I met Pantera." A cult figure and influential composer and performer on Cape Verde's music scene, Pantera died aged 33, just as his new-wave take on batuque, the African rhythm native to the farmlands of Santiago, the biggest island, was taking hold in the clubs and live music venues of Praia, the capital. Fused with his strong sense of melody and the rich, often witty Creole of his lyrics, Pantera's songbook spoke directly to a new generation of Cape Verdean artists. "I'd heard about him," says Andrade, "and then I saw him sing. My aunt knew him and gave me his number. I was very young – I was 15, he was 31 – but I called up and said that I wanted to talk to him about the music he did." They met up at a French cultural centre in Praia, she sang to him, and they soon started hanging out together, with Andrade performing with him at local gigs, and Pantera spreading the word about her. "I feel very lucky – many artists didn't have the chance to meet him and know him and see him singing his own compositions... When you see someone who is so free in his mind making music, you say, OK, that's what I want to do." Among the Pantera compositions she chose for the album is the closing "Regasu", a morna he'd written 10 years before he died. "He was just about to get known in Santiago. He died the day he was meant to take a plane to record his first album in Europe. He'd written 'Regasu' for his funeral, and that was the first time I heard it." —Interview with Mayra Andrade
This entry was posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 8:12 am and is filed under Contemporary. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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