Cape Verdean Singer Lura at the Irvine Barclay Theatre
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The last date listed for Cape Verdean Singer Lura was Wednesday April 16, 2008 / 8:00pm.
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Originally born in Portugal to parents from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, LURA draws on the islands’ pungent blend of trade route cultures that have created a unique musical tradition embracing French Afro-pop, Brazilian rhythms and earthy, traditional African music. Just as Mariza has breathed new life into Fado as a contemporary heir to Amalia Rodrigues, so Lura does to this Cape Verdean music first made famous by Cesaria Evora. Lura brings to her music a street-wise, urban sensuality infused with the passionate roots of Africa. Riding on the tide of Cape Verde’s rediscovery of its African roots, she has the star quality to bring this music to a wider audience. She mixes the familiar Morna style with the little-known rhythms of Funana and Batuque: styles brought to the fore by a talented new generation of composers such as Tcheka and Pantera. It is the music of women from the remote interior of Cape Verde, now infused with jazz and Brazilian influences.
Lura is part of a new generation of musicians rediscovering these hidden traditions of her ancestral homeland. The African musical traditions of Cape Verde are still emerging now after the nation first gained independence in 1975. Prior to that the Church and the colonial government prohibited certain forms of musical expression. The accordion-driven Funana, which Lura performs, was considered too erotic. Originally, a dozen or more women would beat the Batuku rhythm on folded stacks of clothes called tchabeta held by their knees, while a lead singer improvised poetry lampooning or critiquing community happenings. A very sensual dance called Torno accompanied the song form. “The women in Cape Verde spend a lot of time together, working and talking and that is how Batuku started; from the women of Santiago,” Lura says. “Now I and others are making a kind of Batuku, but singing alone, not in a group. I’m a little representation of Batuku from Cape Verde.”
Lura’s songs reflect the concerns of this far-flung nation. “In the poems and lyrics of Cape Verde, we speak a lot about immigration,” explains Lura. “A lot of people move away to make a better living. We talk a lot about rain because there is so little rain. And we talk about food, because sometimes it is very difficult to get food. A lot of things you have to buy from outside; from Portugal, the U.S., Holland. And we talk about the relationship between parents and their children, because so many families are far apart. But the words talk about immigration in a symbolic way.”
Lura released her international debut album, Di Korpu ku Alma (Of Body and Soul) on the Escondida/Lusafrica label in May 2005. She was awarded Best Newcomer at the BBC Radio 3 Awards and Best World Music Album at Les Victoires De la Musique in France. Her new CD M’Bem di Fora which loosely means, “I Come from the Country” or “I come from Far Away” continues to bring cool global influences to bear on indigenous rhythms. The seemless borrowing of influences as diverse as R & B, tango and tropicalia, combine effortlessly with her smoky alto.
Critics and audiences are catching onto Lura’s electrifying live performances as she brings an entirely new generation of fans into the world of Cape Verdian music. In 2007, Lura returned to the US and performed on both coasts; she makes a return trip in 2008.