The Korea Herald


Thousands pay last respects to ‘barefoot diva’ Cesaria Evora

By Korea Herald

Published : Dec. 21, 2011 - 19:16

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MINDELO, Cape Verde (AFP) ― Thousands of mourning fans, from ordinary people to national leaders, gathered Tuesday for the funeral of Cape Verde’s legendary singer Cesaria Evora.

The beloved “barefoot diva” died Saturday at age 70 on her native island of Sao Vicente and her body was taken from the hospital Tuesday to her family’s home in Mindelo.

Her fans, many in tears and singing her songs, lined the streets to see her casket pass, accompanied by 30 honour guards from the army of Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic off the west coast of Africa.

“She sang and enchanted all the continents ... she lit up the world,” said President Jorge Carlos Fonseca during an official ceremony.

The head of state was joined by Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves, and Culture Minister Mario Lucio Sousa, himself a singer and Evora’s friend, along with other famous locals from the worlds of politics and entertainment.

“With Cesaria, the world discovered our soul,” Sousa told his fellow mourners. “Cape Verde became richer with the heritage of Cesaria Evora.”

A funeral mass was held in Mindelo where she will be buried in the city cemetery.

The singer, who won international acclaim for her sultry voice and melancholy ballads, retired three months ago due to ill health, having undergone open heart surgery in May last year.

“I infinitely regret having to stop because of illness, I would have wanted to give more pleasure to those who have followed me for so long,” she said in an interview with Le Monde when she retired.

Evora has sung the blues-influenced “saudade” of her native Cape Verde since a young age, but came to world fame late in life in 1992 after three decades performing in the bars of Mindelo.

Her third album Miss Perfumado, which came out that year, was a worldwide hit selling more than 300,000 copies to date.