The archipelago of Cape Verde has been the home of influential artists like Cesária Évora and Ildo Lobo, who have inspired many musicians in Brazil, Portugal and the rest of the world. Music is said to be Cape Verde’s biggest export, greater even than fishing, and a new generation of Cape Verdean singers and songwriters continue to dominate the music charts.
One such artist is Ade da Costa, who comes from the small island of Maio. Like many Cape Verdeans, he wanted to be a musician. Now he’s got a professional career in Spain and recalls his influences:
‘’ When Bana, Cesária Évora and Ildo Lobo started to play on international stages, and began to make a name for themselves and take Cape Verde’s name further away from our borders, all Cape Verdeans - men and women - wanted somehow to become singers and tell our stories, because we are islanders. It’s just our way to connect with the world.’’
In Cape Verde, music is more than a passion; it’s a way for the youth in the developing country to make a living. It’s thought 25% of jobs in the archipelago are related to music and the performing arts.
A local connection with the international scene
As they have done for decades, Cape Verdean musicians continue to influence and inspire others today. Record labels and producers from all over the world are scouting for the next big artist that will hit the international music charts. Atlantic Music Expo, an international music fair in the cities of Praia and Midelo, is connecting them with the international music business.
The general director of Atlantic Music Expo, Augusto Veiga, states that the Atlantic Music Expo is ‘’of great importance for Cape Verdean musicians, but also for the producers, and for all the music industry of Cape Verde.’’ He adds that it functions as their contact with international music ‘’and also their opportunity for international attention’’.
Protecting local talent
Artists like musician and songwriter June Freedom are incorporating their experiences as members of the diaspora with their Cape Verdean background:
‘’My trajectory with music is more on the afrobeat influence because I also live in the United States and I listen to world music in general but I think that my mission is to sample as much as I can and use traditional music, but with a modern twist.’’
But as performers make a career abroad, the challenge is how to retain the benefits of their talent. The Cabo Verdean Music Society fights to keep their property rights in the islands. Singer and President of Cabo Verdean Music Society Solange Cesarovna comments that ‘’it’s fair that they pursue an international career, but also to return to our home. We don’t necessarily have to migrate - we can keep residing in our country.’’
Abroad or at home, Cape Verdeans will never stop playing, because music is part of their soul.