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Lura

M'bem di fora

 

Lura was quietly studying sports education (her speciality was swimming) in Lisbon, when Juka, a successful singer originally from São Tome and Principe, asked her to appear on his new album. “I was seventeen. I was supposed to be singing backing vocals, but in the end, Juka asked me to sing a duet with him. I’d never thought about singing, but he insisted,” remembers Lura. It was then that she realised she had a voice, with a deep, sensual tone. Juka’s zouk was a hit and other celebrities from Lisbon invited Lura to work with them: her compatriots Tito Paris, Paulo Florès and Paulino Vieira among others.

Lura had joined a theatre company when a Portuguese producer helped her record her first album, a dance record for her generation. She was now 21. The songs were syrupy love zouk and r’n’b ear candy in Cape Verdean Creole. “The record was mainly aimed at discothèques,” she explains. But despite the album’s commercial flavour, one song, Nha Vida (My Life), drew a great deal of attention when it was included on the Red Hot + Lisbon compilation the following year, in 1997. This benefit album for the campaign against AIDS featured songs by Caetano Veloso, Marisa Monte, Djavan and many others.

Lusafrica took an interest in the young singing prodigy when she sang a duet with Bonga, Mulemba Xangola, that appeared on the album of the same name in 2000. In 2004, the label produced Di Korpu Ku Alma (Of Body and Soul), Lura’s truly Cape Verdean record, whose reputation was boosted at home and among the diaspora by the success of Vazulina and Na Ri Na, songs written by Orlando Pantera, a young musician who revolutionised Cape Verdean music until his untimely death.

 

In 2005, the album was released in ten or so countries, including the USA, Italy (where it was one of the top-selling records of the summer) and the UK (where it was nominated at the BBC World Music Awards). About Di Korpu Ku Alma, Portuguese journalist José Eduardo Agualusa wrote, “as I have constantly told anyone who would listen, the future of Cape Verdean music already has a name, and that name is Lura”, while UK daily The Independent promised, “When her international career gets going, this girl will fill stadiums.”

With 70 concerts in 2005 and nearly a hundred in 2006, Lura has been propelled onto the international stage in the wake of her elder, Cesaria Evora. Yet Lura’s style is very different. She is part of a generation that is rediscovering the traditional rhythms of rural Cape Verde: funana, the frenzied dance so typical of the island of Santiago, played on accordion and ferrinho (a sort of iron reco-reco); cola sanjon, a beat heard during the festivities around St. John’s Day in June; mazurka, brought to the island of Sant’Anton by the French, and so on. Like other young artists (especially Tcheka, winner of the Radio France International World Music Prize in 2005), Lura has reworked the old batuque beat, slapped out by the washerwomen of the island of Santiago on the bundles of cloth (tchabeta) they use as percussion instruments.

 

What was simply an underlying presence on Di Korpu Ku Alma is dazzling on M’bem di Fora (I’ve come from far away), Lura’s new album, which is scheduled for release on the 20th November 2006. Provocative, sensual and spicy, Lura’s voice breathes life into the wide range of songs on the album, eleven of them magnificently produced and arranged by Nando Andrade (also producer of Cesaria’s latest, Rogamar), while Toy Vieira (the young singer’s pianist and band leader) handled the production on Mari d’Ascenson and Fitiço di Funana.

The archipelago’s treasure trove of beats sweeps us up in a dizzying, frantic whirlwind of batuque (Galanton), funana (M’bem di Fora, Fitiço di Funana), cola sanjon (Romaria) and mazurka (Mari d’Ascenson), not to mention coladera (No Bem Fala). Apart from the nostalgic As-Agua, which is about waiting for the rain to return, the album is joyful from start to finish, wrapping itself in the rhythms of flamenco guitar here for a song about a girl whose future seems compromised (Ponciana) and in a Portuguese gaita melody there for a village holiday song (Festa di Nha Cumpadri). The unstoppable melodies are brilliantly played by a squad of inventive young musicians: Kako (guitars), Miroca (percussion) and Totinho (saxophones), who normally feature in Cesaria’s band, as well as Jean-Philippe Fanfan (drums), Guy N’Sangue and José Paris (bass) and Régis Gizavo (accordion). Then there are performances from Pedro Joia, François Perchat, Vincent Bucher and master of funana Zeca di Nha Reinalda.

 

This beautiful young woman with her raw, slightly husky voice, presents us with a lush, cheerful, irresistibly danceable album, which she plans to take all over the world. If she should pass your way, make sure you see her on stage: Lura is a phenomenon live.

Other albums by same artist

Di korpu ku alma

Di korpu ku alma - Lura - CD, world music album,lusafrica
12.00 €

Eclipse

Lura, cape-verde, world music, lusafrica
12.00 €
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