EXPIRED: 12/17/11 – Cesaria Evora, 70, was 10 years old when she was given to an orphanage in the Cape Verde Islands, off of West Africa. At 16, she started singing in a tavern popular with sailors. She was also rowed out to anchored ships to sing for those who couldn’t make it to land.
There was no pay – just free drinks. And she drank – cognac – lots of it. Known as the “Barefoot Diva” because she always performed without shoes, she sang “morna,” the traditional music of the region. She mostly sang in the version of creole spoken there, but even those who couldn’t understand the lyrics were moved by her voice.
In 1988 she recorded “La Diva Aux Pieds Nus” (“Barefoot Diva”), which launched her international career. Then in 1995, her album “Cesaria” brought her first Grammy nomination, and an international tour.
But it was in 2003, 54 years after she started singing in local bars for booze, that she won a Grammy in World Music category for her album “Voz D’Amor.”
This past September she retired due to health problems. Retirement didn’t last long.