Cesaria Evora has passed away in her native Cape Verde, aged 70.
From The Guardian... "The singer Cesária Évora, who has died aged 70 after a long period of ill-health, rose from absolute poverty on the Cape Verde archipelago to achieve worldwide fame in her later years. She put the islands – off the coast of west Africa – on the world music map by performing their distinctive morna ballads with a serene mix of sweetness and melancholy.
When she first came to European attention in 1988, Évora appeared an unlikely candidate for international stardom, yet within five years she was selling hundreds of thousands of CDs, with concert audiences to match. Grammy nominations, critical adulation and the praise of famous singers quickly surrounded the chain-smoking, barefoot grandmother, yet Évora remained remarkably blasé about her newfound celebrity.
She was, she always emphasised, a good singer, and thus it was natural that people would enjoy hearing her. That she had had to endure decades of obscurity was, she would add, frustrating. Eschewing false humility and proud of her heritage, Évora knew her own standing among the world's greatest vocalists..
...Though success brought Évora considerable wealth, she remained a barefoot, chain-smoking stoic who shrugged off fame's affectations and retained Sao Vicente as her home. Even after her health began to decline in 2005, she continued to work hard. Three years later, a minor stroke before a Melbourne concert caused the tour to be curtailed. In 2010, a heart attack after a Paris concert necessitated open-heart surgery, and last September she retired from performing."
Evora was scheduled to appear at Womad in New Plymouth in 2008, but, as mentioned above, a minor stroke in Melbourne caused her to cancel, with Neil Finn stepping in to fill her slot.