Sound of Cabo Verde – The Legacy of Cesária Évora

The African archipelago of Cape Verde in the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and South America is world-famous for its music: influenced by the melancholy of Portuguese Fado and Brazilian rhythms, it conveys a melancholy joie de vivre that is unique in this combination.

Cesária Évora made the melancholic Cape Verdean music world-famous at the beginning of the 90s. Évora was the queen of the Morna, the bittersweet, blues-like music of longing for her homeland – the African island state of Cape Verde. The film by Jan Kerhart and Ulrich Stein shows the musical tradition of the African archipelago following the path of Cesária Évora. Where does this music come from? What distinguishes it? How is Évora’s music maintained and further developed by her heirs in Cape Verde?

Even after Cesária Évora’s death, Cape Verdean musicians continue to spread the island’s attitude towards life to the sound of violins, guitars, accordions, clarinets and cavaquinhos. The songs of the different musical styles of the Morna, Coladeira or Funana reflect the history and spirit of many generations of islanders, who find their cultural identity in this music.

In the 16th century, 500 kilometers off the coast of Senegal, Cape Verde developed into center for slave trade. On their sales tour overseas, slave traders carried people from the most diverse regions of Africa to the Cape Verde Islands to sell them from there. The slaves brought their own musical traditions with them, merging and developing them into today’s music of the Cape Verde Islands. The spiritual power of the music, which tells about emigration, longing and survival, gives the Cap Verdean joy of life and hope in an often materially difficult life.

The film accompanies the singer Neuza, the guitarist „Bau“ Rufino Almeira and the singer and composer Michel Montrond at intimate music sessions, backstage at concerts or at the world-famous carnival of Mindelo. It alternates between documentary scenes, songs and explanations of Cape Verdean music. Departing from the traditional sounds of Évora, the film will also present younger, contemporary facets of Cape Verdean music such as the music of Ceuzany with the Cordas do Sol and Hilário Silva.

Jan Kerhart and Ulrich Stein’s film „Sound of Cabo Verde – The Legacy of Cesária Évora” combines music, history and scenery of the Cape Verde Islands to form an attitude towards life. Interviews with musicians and imagery of landscapes and coastal towns merge with Cape Verdean sounds, making it possible to discover and get a feeling of this African region.

Director: Jan Kerhart, Ulrich Stein
Camera: Mark Dölling, Till Sündermann
Drone: Jacob Schlesinger
Editor: Kjell Peterson, Marc Schläfli
Graphics: Jürgen Hermann
Post Production: Raul Zropf
Producer: Sandra Maischberger

Sound of Cabo Verde celebrated international premiere at the Doc. Coimbra film festival 2024.