Mornas de Cabo Verde
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“A hymn of love, illusion and melancholy” according to the poet Fausto Duarte, morna is Jorge Humberto’s favourite musical form. Not his only one, though: the artist also likes to write coladeras with faster tunes and a content that reflects a certain social vision. Although mornas are primarily poetry, Jorge Humberto revives their original refined lyricism with inspired singing and colourful words that draw on the everyday world of the islands.
A gifted singer with a warm, persuasive voice, Jorge Humberto was born on the 26th December 1959 on São Vicente in the port of Mindelo, the cosmopolitan hub and cultural capital of the Cape Verde archipelago since the last century. With a magical, instinctive, profound feel for words, the son of Mindelo has developed a style whose poetic and musical vein is enriched by philosophical musings. He began to write in 1975, the year of independence. The end of colonisation was also an intellectual liberation, giving impetus to every artistic genre. This creative effervescence also led to the appearance of many groups who gave a new momentum to traditional music (mornas and coladeras) and paid tribute to its African (batuque, tabanka, etc.) and European (mazurka, contredanse, etc.) roots. Jorge Humberto joined this movement. In 1982, he began his public performances of classical mornas and Coladeras on the guitar, with a particular fondness for the works of the old poets, such as Eugénio Tavares and B. Leza, relatively in tune with his sensibilities as a social commentator.
After a work accident that affected his fingers and forced him to play guitar in a different way, Jorge Humberto moved to Portugal. There, he made the three albums that would form the basis of his fame in Cape Verde and its diaspora communities in Europe and the United States: Guentà in 1992, Moiabo um Consolà in 1995 and Portexperimental in 1998. His songs have also been covered by many artists, including Fantcha, Maria Alice and Mariana Ramos, and this has consolidated his reputation.
The depth and originality of Jorge Humberto’s lyrics make him a special figure on the Cape Verde musical scene. His psychological observations, existential thoughts and metaphors, and taste for social critique link him to the "Claridade" literary school founded in the 1930s in Mindelo, whose key personalities were Baltasar Lopes and Jorge Barbosa. The Creole language the artist employs (a language he says he loves “like the food you eat”) enables him to achieve extreme precision of expression and ensure a greater harmony of sound in his words and music. After Identidade, an album made in 2004 for the ephemeral Morabeza label, Jorge signed with the Praia label Harmonia and released Ar de Nha Terra in Cape Verde in 2009. This record has now been launched in Europe. Describing himself as “universally Cape Verdean”, the artist is continuing his work, introducing European listeners to the Atlantic blues that is very much a part of him.
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