Local Music: Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista, in his atelier, showed us how guitars are constructed from scratch, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista, in his atelier, showed us how his guitars are constructed from scratch, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

A mix of African, Caribbean, Portuguese and Brazilian influences, Cape Verde’s soulful music tells stories of the island’s history and culture, and life’s joys and sorrows.  The “morna” musical genre, from the English word “mourn,” is believed to have emerged on Boa Vista, Cape Verde.  Many think that this slow, melancholic melody was born from the enslaved who longed for home.  Poignant lyrics, usually sung in Cape Verdean Creole, are accompanied by guitar and other string instruments. Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora, known as the “Queen of Morna,” popularized the genre’s distinctive ballads internationally.

 

Partially constructed guitars and other stringed instruments in the atelier of Luis Baptista, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Partially constructed guitars and other stringed instruments in the atelier of Luis Baptista, Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

One of the stops on our cultural tour of Mindelo was at the atelier of Luis Baptista, a guitar maker and musician.  He walked us through the process of making various types of guitars (some are local to the Cape Verde islands) in his workshop.  Afterwards, we were treated to a musical performance of morna.“

“Luis Baptista is the owner of a factory for string instruments and a guitar school in Mindelo.  The name Baptista is well known in the city: Luis’ father, Joao Baptista Fonseca was a famous constructing engineer for guitars and other sting instruments.  ‘He was using unknown materials and developed new technologies’ explains Luis ‘How we are working today goes back to him.’” – www.vista-verde.com/en/the-islands/sao-vicente.html 

“Mindelo’s museum has an eclectic collection of local crafts, including a lovely workbench whose long history is gouged into its surface with thousands of knife marks.  It once belonged to Mestre Baptista, a master guitar maker based in Mindelo.  His son Luis still makes instruments today.  If you need a new guitar, Luis is your man.  Of course he has made instruments used by Cesária’s musicians.  Then, as if to order, a couple of his many brothers showed up (yep, they played for the legend too) with their friend Edson, a vocalist.  And for the next hour I had my own private impromptu concert in the basement of a little house in the outskirts of town.  Mindelo is like that.” – Nick Maes, The Guardianwww.theguardian.com/travel/2012/apr/06/morna-traditional-music-cape-verde 

 

Luis Baptista and his friends playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista and his friends playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

Luis Baptista playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Luis Baptista playing morna in the downstairs of his atelier in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

 

At the Cap Vert Design store – Design e Artesanato do Cabo Verde -- in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) were a series of brightly colored paintings of musicians and danc

At the Cap Vert Design store – Design e Artesanato do Cabo Verde — in Mindelo, São Vicente, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) were a series of brightly colored paintings of musicians and dancers

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Boa Vista, Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

A view of the beach (Praia da Chave) on Boa Vista, Cape Verde, from which by dive boat we traveled in rough water to a nearby island and reefs for snorkeling

A view of the beach (Praia da Chave) on Boa Vista, Cape Verde, from which by dive boat we traveled in rough water to a nearby island and reefs for snorkeling

 

Cape Verde, or Cabo Verde, is a nation on a volcanic archipelago of 10 islands and 5 islets off the northwest coast of Africa, about 385 miles (620 kilometers) west of Dakar, Senegal.  Cabo Verde is named for the westernmost cape of Africa, Cape Verde (French: Cap Vert), which is located in nearby Senegal and is the nearest point on the continent.  In 1975, Cape Verde declared its independence from Portugal.  It’s known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture, traditional morna music (popularized internationally by Cesária Évora, the “Queen of Morna”) and numerous beaches.  Cabo Verde’s largest island, Santiago, is home to the current capital, Praia.

Aptly-named Boa Vista (beautiful view) is one of the largest Cape Verde islands.  Boa Vista offers miles of uncrowded beaches (Praia de Santa Monica – named after the southern California beach — and Praia do Estoril are popular) and excellent opportunities for windsurfing, snorkeling – which is how we spent our afternoon there — diving, kite surfing and fishing.  Some visitors go for a hike in the mini-Sahara Desert that is Deserto de Viana, ride quad bikes along the shore, go birdwatching for rare varieties, or see the ever-deteriorating Cabo Santa Maria shipwreck, now a rusty shell sitting off the coast.  Sal Rei, the island’s diminutive capital, is home to roughly half of Boa Vista’s inhabitants and is a pleasant spot for sampling langostada (lobster), sipping grogue (the national drink, a local rum distilled from sugar cane), and shopping for authentic crafts.

 

Boa Vista, Cape Verde, has had major development as a tourist mecca over the past decade, including this Arabian-style hotel – the Karamboa Hotel -- stretched all along the western bea

Boa Vista, Cape Verde, has had major development as a tourist mecca over the past decade, including this Arabian-style hotel – the Karamboa Hotel — stretched all along the western beach (Praia da Chave)

 

Beach lounging by the Karamboa Hotel (pictured above), Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Beach lounging by the Karamboa Hotel (pictured above), Boa Vista, Cape Verde

 

“The overwhelming majority [approximately 70%] of the population of Cabo Verde is of mixed European and African descent and is often referred to as mestiço or Crioulo.  There is also a sizable African minority, which includes the Fulani (Fulbe), the Balante, and the Mandyako peoples.  A small population of European origin includes those of Portuguese descent (especially from the Algarve, a historical province, and the Azores islands), as well as those of Italian, French, and English descent.  There is also a substantial number that traces its roots to Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Inquisition and were among the islands’ early settlers, or to other groups of Jews—mainly tradesmen—who arrived in the 19th century from Morocco.” — www.britannica.com

 

Scuba Caribe were the outfitters who took us snorkeling off Praia da Chave in Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Scuba Caribe were the outfitters who took us snorkeling off Praia da Chave in Boa Vista, Cape Verde

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.