Grammy-Winning Singer Cesaria Evora Dies

Cesaria Evora died today in her native Cape Verde (Verd), an island off the West Coast of Africa. The Grammy-winning vocal artist was 70 years old. Weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz has a remembrance of her colorful musical career.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Finally today, we remember the singer called the Barefoot Diva. Cesaria Evora died today in her native Cape Verde.

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RAZ: Cesaria Evora was called the Barefoot Diva because she always performed without shoes. Her style was almost impossible to classify: Brazilian, African, jazzy, bluesy. She drew comparisons to the legendary Billie Holiday. She was born in Cape Verde in 1941 and got her start singing in local taverns frequented by sailors. Her rise to international fame didn't come until later in life, the late 1980s, when Evora was in her late 40s. In 1999, in an interview with my colleague Daniel Zwerdling, Evora explained why her performances seemed so stoic. She rarely smiled on stage.

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CESARIA EVORA: (Through translator) I'm not a dancer. That's my style. My fans used to tell me that they like the way that I kept so simple, simple as I was in Cape Verde. So I don't sing - just the singing, it's the most important part. If that was the most important part, maybe all the fame that I have now would go to my head, but it didn't. I still am - I am still the same person that I was in Cape Verde singing in the bars.

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RAZ: Cesaria Evora won her first and only Grammy in the World Music category in 2004. Last year, she stopped performing after a heart attack and a stroke. And in September, she announced her retirement. Cesaria Evora died today. She was 70 years old.

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RAZ: And for Saturday, that's WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. You can hear the best of this program on our podcast, WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Subscribe or listen at npr.org/weekendatc. We post a new episode Sunday night. We're back with a whole new hour of radio tomorrow. Until then, thanks for listening and have a great night.

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