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Lura

Di korpu ku alma

 

The voice on this album is among those I have believed in most strongly over the last few years. Ever since I heard Nha Vida, I have been telling anyone who cares to listen that the future of Cape Verdean music already has a name: Lura.

Some shadows shine with their own light. Those that form this song, for instance. A smoothly burning voice, at once sweet and caustic, providing us with reasons to live. A voice we want to hear on both joyful and sad occasions. A voice that soothes us and sweeps us away.

 

“Listen to Lura,” I repeated endlessly, even to those sceptics who pointed out past misjudgements in the young singer’s career. Nha Vida rescued the eponymous album (her first) released in Lisbon on the 31st July 1996, her 21st birthday. The following year, the track was chosen for the Onda Sonora Red Hot + Lisbon compilation. Lura’s extraordinary voice shines with the dazzling sheen of newly-polished metal among the others on this record, which includes some of the greatest performers in the vast Portuguese-speaking world: Marisa Monte, Caetano Veloso, Teresa Salgueiro, Filipa Pais,  Djavan and Bonga.

 

In 2002, Lura released her second album, In Love, on the Harmonia label. She had written seven of its twelve songs. Although the quality was uneven, as soon as I heard the last two pieces, Ma´n ba dês bês kumida dâ and Tabanka Assigo, all my original conviction flooded back. Give this woman’s voice a cause and it will become a whip. Give it land and it will take root. Give it roots and it will flower.

 

Lura’s new album, Di Korpo ku Alma (Of Body and Soul) fully justifies my most optimistic predictions. The future is here. In passing, I should confess that I had no difficulty in prophesying Lura’s future. My only real surprise was that no-one else saw what is becoming very obvious today. 

 

“Listen to Lura.” First, listen to the powerful Batuku that opens body and soul. This theme by the late lamented Orlando Pantera – whose spirit shines all through this record – seems tailored to match Lura’s energy. Batuku is in fashion, she sings. Well, if it wasn’t already, it will be now. Three more of Pantera’s songs feature on this CD: Na ri na, Vazulina and Raboita di Rubon Manel – from everyday satire (the wonderful Vazulina) to a eulogy to rebellion. Lura, one of the few female songwriters in the sumptuous world of Creole music, penned the second track, So um cartinha (Just a little letter). On it, she pokes fun at a typically Cape Verdean custom of asking family or friends who are visiting Lisbon to take back “a little letter”, then presenting them with a fully-packed trunk. Apart from the emblematic Nha Vida, she also wrote the fine Tem um Hora pa Tude (There’s a time for everything), based – so she says – on a tour of various North European countries with Cesaria Evora in June 2003. Another name to remember is Tcheka. This rising young star in the islands’ musical firmament plays on two memorable tracks, both taken from the previous album: Tabanka Assigo and Ma´n ba dês bês kumida dâ. The CD also features an old Bulimundo song, Tó Martins, which is about emigration, a recurring theme in the music of this historic group. Then come Dzê que Dzê by Vaíss and Luís Lima, and Padoce di Céu Azul by Valdemiro Ferreira (Vlu), previously recorded by Tito Paris on his Guilhermina album.

“Listen to Lura.” And then go and see her on stage, plunging herself body and soul into her art, pure Creole beauty with a startling voice. Although she says that her theatrical experience with the Plano Seis company has helped her greatly on stage, I am still convinced that her basic performing talent is innate. It mainly lies in her passion and youthful energy, and – of course – the fantastic power of her truly unique voice, a gift she took years to accept. “I thought my voice was awful,” she says. “I was even ashamed to sing Happy Birthday.” Born in Lisbon in 1975, she discovered her Cape Verdean identity (while remaining fully Portuguese) through the Creole she learnt with her friends at school. Today, she is proud to speak and write her songs in a deep Creole from the heart of the islands. As a child, she wanted to be a dancer. Later, she taught swimming. Finally, music drew her from the water. Unlucky for her pupils, but very fortunate for all of us who listen to her today.

Once, when the world was still limitless and enigmatic, nervous cartographers noted the legend “here be dragons” on the edges of their maps. As I look into the future – just as those ancient cartographers looked at the world – I can confidently write on Lura’s map “here be great light: the radiance of a great singer”. 

Thank you, Lura.

 

José Eduardo Agualusa

Other albums by same artist

M'bem di fora

M'bem di fora - Tcheka - CD, world music album, lusafrica
12.00 €

Eclipse

Lura, cape-verde, world music, lusafrica
12.00 €
LUSAFRICA 115 Rue Lamarck 75018 PARIS - lusafrica@lusafrica.com

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