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Teofilo Chantre

Viaja

“Fifi, I’m glad you’re a success. Back when I was little, all the kids in Cruz de Jom d’Ebra saw you as a leader, especially me. I knew you were a great artist. I still remember the war games you organised, the ‘shows’ with music by R. Carlos, climbing the hills and the great sketch with Rosinha (do you remember that?). The people of Cruz are proud of you and your music moves us greatly. Sadly, a lot of guys from your generation are lost. You’re a good model. I tell the youngest kids about you and remember you always.” (Tuka de J. Bento). These moving words posted by a childhood friend on Teofilo Chantre’s site say a great deal about the singer’s music. Outwardly reserved like many Cape Verdeans, he fashions irresistibly charming songs that tug at your heartstrings. Teofilo has patiently, lovingly polished the thirteen pearls on his fifth album, the most varied one to date. It has a more playful feel too, with its languid coladeras, African beguines (sometimes with a Brazilian flavour), infinitely sweet mornas and warm, inconsolable saudade. He sings his songs with a velvet voice to guitar arrangements that mingle with violin, cello, accordion, piano, understated percussion and a few electric instruments. “I remember that I loved to sing and write melodies. I used to go up on the hill to sing,” reminisces Teofilo. He tells of his childhood and early teenage years in Cruz de Jom d’Ebra, his neighbourhood in Mindelo on the island of São Vicente, the city where it all began, revealing so much to the world: Cesaria Evora, morna, saudade and Cape Verde, a group of volcanic islands off the coast of Senegal, a former Portuguese colony where it never rains. Born in 1963 on the island of São Nicolau, Teofilo moved to São Vicente at the age of one and was brought up by his grandparents, quite a common occurrence in Cape Verde, many of whose nationals live abroad. Teofilo’s father had settled in Rotterdam and his mother in Paris after a stay in Hamburg. “I joined my mother at 14. It was a joy to be with her again, but at the same time, I felt sad to have left my grandparents behind. Saudade! I had a few friends I talked to a lot about Cape Verde, but in Paris, I was alone most of the time,” explains Teofilo, who played and sang with various Cape Verdean associations and at community events, and, a lover of Brazilian ballads, even won a prize for Portuguese-language song. In 1992, Cesaria, the still barefoot diva, made Miss Perfumado, her new album. Teofilo had written three of its tracks. “I had several songs in reserve. I’d been writing since I was 16, especially Recordai, which is on Miss Perfumado. It was also at that age that I began to learn guitar,’ remembers Teofilo Chantre, who met José da Silva, Cesaria’s producer, in 1982, back in the days when José was still a musician. They rehearsed together in several bands. Teofilo wrote other songs for Cesaria and José produced his first album, Terrra & Cretcheu, in 1993. This was Teofilo’s first foray outside France’s Cape Verdean community. The record showcased his warm voice, sinuous guitar work and personal lyrics. It featured an emergent Brazilian style that is often apparent on Viajà today, as if Teofilo were inventing Cape Verdean bossa nova, a light Creole jazz. Just listen to Segunda Geração, a sublime duet with his compatriot Mayra Andrade, also a lover of Brazilian melodies. Other songs - the tender, disenchanted Chelicha (Whim), the fraternal Appel pa tude Naçon (A Call to All Nations), the regret of Tchoro di Guiné (Guinea’s Lament), the partings and reflection of Bô Viaja (Bon Voyage) or the frustrated love of Dérobade (Evasion) were co-written with Vitorino Chantre, Teofilo’s father and a lyricist since the 50s, who worked with one of the greatest morna writers, Amandio Cabral, before turning away from songwriting. His son led him back to the art. “He’s always encouraged me, so it was only fair I do the same,” says Teofilo. Viajà was partly recorded in Mindelo with the help of the great Bau, one of the finest musicians in Cape Verde, and Hernani Almeida, the rising young guitarist of the moment. It was a first for Teofilo Chantre,

Other albums by same artist

Mestissage

Teofilo-chantre-mestissage-lusafrica-caboverde-world-music
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LUSAFRICA 115 Rue Lamarck 75018 PARIS - lusafrica@lusafrica.com

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