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A busy street, a joyous racket, a wedding, grog (Cape Verdean rum) - true ‘holy water’, soothing and revitalising - a serenade and the drums (both religious and secular) that celebrate the feast of Saint Jean… These scenes and experiences common to all Cape Verdeans are depicted here in colours and sounds whose cheer and exuberance offer a perfect counterpoint to the intimate tones of the morna. Pleasure, humour and mischief are also part of life in Cape Verde, and to turn all this into song, there is always a guitar to hand - a tireless companion, the Cape Verdeans’ best friend and their ally when it comes to expressing their innermost feelings.
Today, a sun-drenched voice swells, singing of Cape Verde. It is the voice of Tiolino, a man of 38 who shows an astonishing musical maturity and freely acknowledges his descent from a long line of writers and players. Tiolino (whose full name is Adelino Baptista Livramento) was born in Boavista, the cradle of morna - in Joao Galego to be precise, a village widely reputed as the home of many musicians. He grew up to the sound of the guitar played by his father Victor Hugo, a musician fond of the ‘Brazilian manner’, all in arpeggios, a very common style among the traditional musicians of Cape Verde. His son preferred a livelier, rhythmic accompaniment, which he still uses today to lend vitality to his coladeiras. “Since we disagreed about that, I can’t say I learned to play with him, but I listened to him a lot,” explains Tiolino.
At the age of 10, he left Boavista to continue his schooling on the island of Sal, before moving to Sao Vicente. Then, at 20, the young Cape Verdean travelled to the Soviet Union. He returned home in 1993. Now an expert on energy systems, he began to work as a physics teacher, living on the island of Sal.
There, he played in different hotels and restaurants with a few friends, and his voice and songs won him a following. This was the start of a new chapter for Tiolino, proud heir to tradition, who claimed Manuel d’Novas as his master and also identified with that other icon of Cape Verdean music (they were of the same generation): Orlando Pantera. “In our different ways, we deal with the same subjects.”
In words and notes, the eleven songs on “Rua dreita” look at everyday life in Cape Verde in this new millennium: arranged marriages (‘Pidrinhe’, the song everyone was humming last summer), the death of a child (‘Eterno’) and urban love (‘Rua dreita’). The mission of great songwriters may be to immortalise these commonplace things. Indeed, the first of Tiolino’s songs to be released on a record (sung by Lura on the album ‘M’bem di fora’) is about these people, whose vocation it is to express Cape Verde in song.