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.
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 Guardian, www.theguardian.com/travel/2012/apr/06/morna-traditional-music-cape-verde
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