Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora dies at 70

Sun Dec 18, 2011 4:51pm EST
 
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PRAIA, Cape Verde (Reuters) - The Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, known as the "barefoot diva," has died at age 70, according to reports over the weekend.

The singer, who brought the melancholy music known as "morna" to international audiences and received a Grammy in 2003, was hospitalized on Friday with respiratory failure, heart problems and pulmonary edema. She died at dawn on Saturday in her hometown of Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde's state broadcaster reported on its website.

Evora had canceled several concerts before announcing the end of her career on September 23 because of health problems. In recent years she had undergone a number of operations, including open-heart surgery in May 2010.

Her last tour was scheduled to take her to Armenia, Romania, France, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

According to her official website, Evora began her singing career in the 1960s, and was known for singing morna, songs that told sentimental stories of disappointment and expressed the remoteness of the archipelago of Cape Verde, in the Atlantic Ocean off the western coast of Africa.

She was born on August 27, 1941, and started singing in the bars of Mindelo as a teen, when Cape Verde was still part of Portugal. In 1985 she performed in Lisbon, which led to an invitation to record in Paris.

Her first album, 1988's "La Diva Aux Pieds Nus," named after her preference for performing without shoes, brought Evora her first international success as a recording artist.

In the early 1990s she became a leading figure in the world-music scene with the albums "Mar Azul" and "Miss Perfumado," featuring songs such as "Sodade" and "Cesaria."

Since then she filled concert halls around the world and became the best-known export of Cape Verde, singing mainly in the Creole language of her native country.

After receiving several Grammy nominations, she was awarded the prize in the World Music category for her 2003 album "Voz d'Amor."

Her last studio album, "Nha Sentimento," was released in 2009.