Musicians chase fame on West Africa's musical islands

Source:AFP Published: 2017/4/17 17:08:39

Every April, the tiny island capital of Cape Verde is taken over for a week by musicians chasing dreams of record deals and sold-out stadiums.

Two events, the Atlantic Music Expo (AME) and the more established Kriol Jazz Festival, draw talent from as far away Haiti and Brazil, intent on showing what they have to offer to international producers on an archipelago famed for its own rich musical heritage.

"During this fifth edition of the AME, foreign producers showed a lot of interest toward Cape Verdian artists like Lucibela and Os Tubaroes," said Jose da Silva, the festival's executive director, as the week drew to a close.

Da Silva knows the world music industry better than most, having spotted the talent of Cesaria Evora, Cape Verde's "barefoot diva," who made the island nation's bittersweet "morna" ballads internationally famous.

He describes Lucibela, a young artist who has been likened to Evora, as the hottest ticket at the festival so far, along with South Africa's Tribute "Birdie" Mboweni, whose honeyed tones blend seamlessly with a jazz/soul vibe.

"I want to continue what Cesaria started," Lucibela told AFP. "I want to sing Cape Verde's own musical styles like 'morna' and 'coladeira' all over the world, but I want to be known for my own talent."

No style is discounted at the Atlantic Music Expo, but its African roots are proudly out front, with more than 500 music professionals attending, among them Afrojazz, soul, R&B, rap and traditional folk artists.

For many, it is an opportunity to perform and network on the beautiful island of Praia, the ordinarily sleepy capital.

"We hope to meet tour organizers, because they are the ones who will allow us to show our music all over the world," said Pamela Badjogo, a Gabonese Afrojazz singer.

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