Cesária Évora made the melancholic Capeverdian music world-famous in the early 90s – in France she was known as “la diva aux pieds nus”, the barefoot diva. Évora was the queen of the Morna, the melancholically sweet, blues-like music of her homeland – the African island state of Cape Verde.
Following the footsteps of Cesária Évora, the film by Jan Kerhart and Ulrich Stein shows the African island´s musical tradition. Where does this music come from? What distinguishes it? How is Évora’s music cultivated and refined by its heirs in Cape Verde?
Even after the death of Cesária Évora, Cape Verdean musicians continue to convey the sense of life of the African island, accompanied by violins, guitars, accordions, clarinets and cavaquinhos. The songs of the different musical styles such as Morna, Coladeira or Funana reflect the history and lifestyles of many generations of islanders whose cultural identity is found in this music.
In the 16th century, 500 kilometres off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde evolved into a slave trading centre. On their sales trips overseas, slave traders took people from different regions of Africa to Cape Verde to sell them from there. The musical traditions brought to the island by the slaves blended together, developing into the Cape Verdean music known to this day.
The film accompanies the singer Neuza, the guitarist “Bau” Rufino Almeira and the singer and composer Michel Montrond at intimate jam sessions, backstage at concerts or at the world-famous carnival of Mindelo.
The film alternates between journalistic commentary, musical performances and explanations of Cape Verdean music. Beginning with the historic sounds of the Évora tradition, the film also shows younger, contemporary trends in Cape Verdean music, such as the music of Ceuzany with the Cordas do Sol and Hilário Silva.
The documentray „In the Footsteps of Cesária Évora – World Music of Cape Verde“ by Jan Kerhart and Ulrich Stein merges music, history and imagery of Cape Verde to convey a sense of life. Interviews with musicians and documentary views of landscapes and coastal towns are combined with the sounds of Cape Verdean music, making it possible to understand and discover the culture of this African region.
Director: Jan Kerhart, Ulrich Stein
Producer: Ulrich Stein
Editorial team ZDF: Christopher Janssen
Production company: Vincent Productions für ZDF / ARTE