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August 22, 2008

Cape Verde Round Two: Mayra Andrade

Mayra Andrade
The singer shines.
Photo: Jean Marc Lubrano

by John Oseid

Never mind that I have yet to visit the Cape Verde archipelago, I'm hooked on its culture and especially its booming music scene. Some weeks ago, I extolled the young guitarist Tcheka and promised to share some more of his talented compatriots with you.

Meet the young and talented Mayra Andrade. This spring she was selected "Best Newcomer" at the BBC Music Awards, an honor for which she performed at Royal Albert Hall. Andrade's got a lot going on in the States, too. In May she took the stage at New York's Carnegie Hall, earlier this summer she put on a lovely show at Joe's Pub (I'm still raving about it), and in September her splendid album Navega makes its U.S. debut.

The drop-dead-gorgeous Andrade has a mature stage presence for someone in her early twenties. At Joe's Pub, she moved gracefully in an elegant silver dress, refraining from faux sultriness that she could easily get away with. She performed her tender and tough (and often enigmatic) songs in a number of Cape Verdean styles as well as jazz, samba, and bossa nova tunes. At one point she even led the audience in a playful sing-along.

The daughter of a diplomat, Andrade was born in Havana and raised in Europe and West Africa. Paris is her home now, which accounts for her having written a French cabaret song, "Comme s'il en pleuvait." In the intense and driving tune "Lua" she calls out to the moon, her beautiful kriolu (creole) syllables tumbling out with rat-a-tat speed. And in the above homemade video, Andrade and Brazilian singer Mariana Aydar sit on a cobblestone street singing my favorite of her songs, the sweet and swift "Tunuka." Just as she does on stage, Andrade scrapes her simple metallic percussion instrument to great effect.

Further reading:
* The Wall Street Journal highlights Navega
* Andrade discusses her early affection for Caetano Veloso's famous 1970s hit "O Leãozinho."
* Check out English translations of Andrade's songs on her Web site
* Her MySpace page is worth browsing, too


Mayra is wonderful.

Also check out her friend Ceu'!

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