Who was Cesária Évora? The ‘Barefoot Diva’ singer celebrated with Google Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle honours the legendary folk singer Cesária Évora on what would’ve been her 78th birthday.

The singer, who hailed from Cape Verde, toured the world and won a 2003 Grammy Award for her album Voz d’amor, as well as two KORA awards from the African music industry.

She became known as “the Barefoot Diva” for often performing on stage without wearing any shoes.

Here’s what you need to know about Cesária Évora, the inspiration behind today’s Google Doodle:

Who was Cesária Évora?

Cesaria Evora peforms on the second evening of Sziget festival, 9 August, 2007. (Getty)

Cesária Évora was born on August 27, 1941 in Mindelo, Cape Verde.

Her father, who was a part-time musician, died when Cesária was just seven years old. With her mother left unable to cope raising six children, a young Cesária was placed into an orphanage at the age of 10.

Cesária began singing as a child and became known for performing mornas, traditional Cape Verdean folk songs that often told stories of the country’s long history of isolation, slave trade and population loss due to emigration.

Struggling to find financial success as a singer, Cesária stopped performing in the mid-1970s. She resumed singing in 1985 and was later invited by the singer Bana to record in Lisbon, but failed to catch the attention of any producers.

Her luck began to change in 1988 when producer Josè Da Silva invited her to Paris to record an album. Cesária was 47-years-old at the time and felt she had nothing to lose, so agreed to the trip.

Cesaria Evora is being celebrated with a Google Doodle, on what would have been her 78th birthday. (Google)

Her first album, La Diva Aux Pieds Nus, found her international success when it was released in 1988.

Cesária’s 1992 album Miss Perfumedo sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide and included one of her most famous songs – Sodade.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Cesária continued to record albums and perform all over the world, earning herself a Grammy award in 2003.

Her final album, Cesária Évora &…, was released in 2010 and featured a collection of duets with musicians from more than 15 countries.

She announced her retirement in September 2011 due to ill health and died on December 17, 2011, from respiratory failure and hypertension.

Why was she called ‘The Barefoot Diva?’

Cesaria Evora performs during the second day of the Nice Jazz Festival, 20 July, 2006. (Getty)

Cesária often performed without shoes on stage, which some interpreted as a sign of solidarity with the poor.

However, the singer went on to dispute this, telling the Washington Post in 2001: “People used to say that I did that in solidarity with the hungry people and all the poor people of the world, but that’s not true.

“In Cape Verde, lots of people are like me. They just don’t want to wear shoes.”


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