Elida Almeida: Kebrada

Art Dancing With Life

Listening Post 129. Elida Almeida describes her second album as an x-ray of Cape Verde, stories that look beneath the surface of hope and disillusion. At 24, she is a consummate singer-songwriter, blending her island homeland’s hallmark styles—funaná, morna, batuque and tabanka—with Latin energy and traces of R&B. Across 12 tracks, the album offers a current, delightfully applied, of life and art imitating one another. With the most mournful doses of reality, Almeida’s warm voice and gentle or upbeat rhythms remind us that music is a balm for hardship. And the generous, wise-beyond-her-years woman who serves the songs has her own Cinderella story—daughter of a widowed street-vendor, she grew up in a home without electricity, stayed in school, sang in church and achieved her artistic dream. She merges suffering with solace in Forti Dor (Bitter Pain), the ballad of a mother who loses a child to gang violence and cries over his grave: “He must be hungry/He’s cold/He’s thirsty,” she laments, in Cape Verdean Creole, to the tender lilt of guitar and keyboard (video 1). A carnival atmosphere cushions Bersu d’Oru (Golden Cradle) a warning about shattered romantic illusions (video 2). Grogu Kaba (The Disappearance of Rum) animatedly bemoans the plague of drunkenness that comes when rain fails and men can’t work in the cane fields (video 3). Also emblematic are Nha Rainha (My Queen) a tribute to mothers who sacrifice to prepare children for life; Nta Fasi Kusa (I’ll Do So Many Things), the homecoming song of an émigré returning to the islands after 20 years working abroad; and Sapatinha (My Childhood), inspired by the sounds and experiences—roosters, crickets, solid breakfasts and scary stories—of Kebrada, the village where Almeida spent weekends with her grandmother, looked deep and learned lessons she could gracefully craft into song. (Lusafrica)

 

Forti Dor: “He began to behave badly/I gave him some advice/A mother’s heart is never wrong/That friendship will cause him problems/Every day that God made/The neighbors complained to me/Natalinu did just what he wanted/I was helpless, I was his mother and father…/It’s a bitter pain/I’d like to go to São Martinho every day/Yes, it hurts me, this pain/My little boy is under the ground/He must be hungry/He’s cold/He’s thirsty”

 

Bersu d’Oru: “I ran after Manuzinhu/Who was heading off, blowing his trumpet/I played for gold with Sema Lopi/And I won, him with his accordion and me on the ferrinho/I sat in the lap of Madam Nácia/She blessed me and told me/’Don’t trust boys, speak to them/With your eyes to the sea and your back to the land…/Ole le le/But it was just a dream/Ole le le/I thought I’d been born into a golden cradle”

 

Grogu Kaba: “Why do rivers of rum flow?/Why don’t the taverns close?/Why doesn’t the rain pour down/So the men can work in the fields?/Jacinta complained to me/About her body, black and blue/From the beatings Palu gives her/Three times a day…/Oh rum, disappear/Let the rain fall”

 

 


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