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Cesaria Evora, the BareFoot Diva.

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World music singer Cesaria Evora is known as the "Barefoot Diva" -- a literal reference to her preference for performing shoeless and a symbolic reference to her empathy for the underprivileged women of her native Africa.

Cesaria Evora aka Cize to her friends, was born on August 27th, 1941 in Mindelo, Cabo Verde Islands off the coast of Senegal, where she and her six siblings were raised fatherless, living in near poverty. With her great voice and stunning looks she soon attracted attention, but her hopes to become a professional singer were yet to be fulfilled. The singer Bana and a Cape Verde women's association respectively invited her to record in Lisbon but not one single producer showed any interest. In 1988 a young frenchman of Cape Verde blood, JosŤ Da Silva offered her to come to Paris to record an album. She was 47 at the time and had nothing to loose, and she had never been to Paris before, so she agreed, "Alleluliah"! Evora began singing in public in her mid-teens and soon she was known in her native land as the "Queen of Morna." Mornas -- taken from the English "to mourn" -- are Portugese-Creole ballads of nostalgia, suffering and lost love sung in a minor key. Today, Evora's heartfelt emotional vocals are often compared to such singers as Billie Holiday, Edith Piaf and Bessie Smith.

In the late 1980s, Evora went to Paris to record her first CD, La Diva aux Pieds Nus, which was released in 1988. After extensive touring in Europe and North America, and several successful albums -- including 1992's Miss Perfumado, which sold more than 200,000 copies in France alone -- Evora had achieved international fame.

In 1995 her critically acclaimed CD, Evora Cesaria, received a Grammy nomination and was hailed as the "Best of the Year" by The New York Times, The Boston Globe and the Philadelphia Inquirer.The New York Times wrote "her songs of loss and longing are as heart-rending as they are spellbinding."

The 50-something Evora continues to maintain a rigorous tour schedule. In 1997, she released the album Cabo Verde, and her single "Besame Mucho" appeared on the soundtrack for the film Great Expectations.

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