Magic and Tragic: A champion of batuque.

Author:Williams, Stephen
 
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When African Business reviewed the young Cape Verdean artist Mayra Andrade's CD Studio 109 in June last year, it was noted that these Atlantic islands have steadily produced a great number of female singing stars, but very few male voices.

As well as the barefoot diva, Cesaria Evora, a plethora of younger Lisbon-born Cape Verdeans - for example Sara Tavares, Lura and Carmen Souza - were among the women that had come to world attention, but somehow we had missed the contribution that the guitarist and singer-songwriter Manuel Lopes Andrade, a.k.a. Tcheka, had made to contemporary Cape Verdean music over the last decade.

Now, with this beautifully recorded album Dor de Mar (The Pain of the Sea), we have the opportunity to make good this oversight. This album includes songs about the environment, love and brotherhood, greed and inequity, respect and humanity, romance and separation - all sung with a rich mixture of both joyful expression and melancholic sorrow.

The Cape Verde-born, Paris-based Jose da Silva-producer of many of the fine albums recorded by the recently retired Cesaria Evora - also produced this, Tcheka's fourth album.

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A family affair

Tcheka was born in 1973 in Ribeira da Barca, a small rural town on the north-eastern coast of Santiago, Cape Verde, whose modest economy is basically farming and fishing. His father, Nho Raul Andrade, was a renowned violinist in the area who taught music to his sons and eventually created a small family band that played at local weddings, funerals and baptism festivities.

Tcheka recalls that he learned to play the acoustic guitar under duress at age eight, and by the time he reached nine-years old he was playing in the family band. Like so many young Cape Verdeans, Tcheka's secondary education had to be cut short because his family could not afford the expense, so his teenage years were spent fishing. But it was a music career that he would eventually return to. While he celebrates multiple Cape Verdean genres such as batuku, funana, finason, tabanka, morna and coladera, Tcheka's music also has Caribbean, Brazilian and African influences which he adds to the folk, jazz, blues and rock elements in the mix. He writes his...

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