Music of Cape Verde

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Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. Funaná, Coladeira, Batuque and Cabo love are other musical forms.


Cape Verde is an island archipelago that was uninhabited until the Portuguese arrived in 1462. The sailors brought with them African slaves, and the islands' population became mixed with elements of both races. Climate conditions made the islands inhospitable, and the Portuguese governments mostly ignored the inhabitants and the frequent droughts and famines that wracked the islands periodically. As a result, there are now more Cape Verdeans abroad than at home, and sizable communities exist in New England, Portugal, Wales, Senegal, Italy, France and the Netherlands.

In 2011, it would be one of the most recent countries to have its own music award, the Cabo Verde Music Awards was established and awards the greatest songs of the year by Cape Vedean artists (and those of abroad). At the continental level, singers or artists from Cape Verde and Capeverdeans abroad are included on another award, the MTV Africa Music Awards at the continental level awarded each year by the music network MTV. From 2001-2011, Cape Verdeans and Capeverdeans abroad were awarded the KORA Awards, two singers were ever awarded including Cesária Évora and Suzanna Lubrano.

Folk music


Morna is by far the most popular genre of Cape Verdean music, and it has produced an international superstar in Cesária Évora. Morna is a national song-style, like Argentinian tango, beloved by Cape Verdeans across the many islands of the country. Lyrics are usually in Creole, and reflect highly-variable themes, including love and lust, patriotism and mourning.

Morna is believed to have originated on Boa Vista as a cheerful song-type. Eugénio Tavares was an influential songwriter of the period, and his songs are still extensively performed. Morna also spread to São Vicente, and composers like B. Leza and Manuel de Novas became popular. Solo vocalists are accompanied by a guitar, violin, bass guitar) and a piano. The cavaquinho (similar to a ukulele), a Portuguese instrument, is also common.

In the 1930s, Morna evolved in a swifter form of music called coladeira. It is a more light-hearted and humorous genre, with sensual rhythms. Performers include Codé di Dona, Manuel de Novas, Frank Cavaquim, Djosa Marques and Os Tubarões.

Aside from Évora, popular morna musicians include Ildo Lobo, Titina, Celina Pereira, Bana, Djosinha, B. Leza, Travadinha, Sãozinha, Maria Alice, Carmen Souza and Gardénia Benros.


Funaná is an accordion-based genre from Santiago. Prior to independence, funaná was denigrated by colonial authorities, who considered it African. Since independence, however, bands like Bulimundo adapted the music for pop audiences and Finaçon, who combined funaná and coladeira into a fusion called funacola. Other group includes Paris-based La MC Malcriado


Batuque is also popular in Ca pe Verde. Originally a woman's folk music, batuque is an improvised music with strong satirical or critical lyrics. In the 80's, Orlando Pantera has created the "new batuco" (neo-batuku), but he died in 2001 before to achieve his creative work. Performers and songwriters are Orlando Pantera, Vadú, Tcheka, Mayra Andrade, Lura, Zeca di nha Reinalda.


Tabanka or Tabanca is a form of music in Cape Verde, also popular, it characterizes by having an allegro, a binary compass,[1] and traditionally being melodic only. Singers or artists and band include Os Tubarões, Zezé di Nha Reinalda, Finaçon, Orlando Pantera and Simentera.


Coladeira is a form of dance and music from Cape Verde. Singers and musicians includes Nancy Vieira, the band Simentera, Mité Costa, Bana, Manecas Matos, Cabral & Cabo Verde Show, Ildo Lobo, Djalunga, Paulino Vieira, Dudú Araújo, Beto Dias and Suzanna Lubrano


Colá is a form of music from Cape Verde. It is mainly sung during religious festivals in the islands of Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Boa Vista and Brava.

Popular music


The musical style Coladeira originating from the Cape Verde islands is a derivative of Compas, promoted by French Antilles artists as zouk mixed with the coladeira and other Cape verdian rhythms. There has been a fusion of the zouk love with the coladeira, to which several names have been given, such as cola-dance, cola-zouk, cabo-swing, Cabo love, etc. In this variant, the rhythm has the same accentuation as the compas, the instrumentation is also copied from the zouk, the accentuation of the melody line is different, the syncopation is made in other contexts and the melody line is less continuous than the traditional coladeira, with breaks.

There are many Cape Verdeans living abroad, especially in the United States, where they are concentrated in California, Hawaii and throughout New England, especially Rhode Island and Boston. Many came on whaling ships in the 19th century. Their music included string bands like The B-29s, Notias, Augusto Abrio and the Cape Verdean Serenaders. There were also Cape Verdean big bands, including the Creole Vagabonds and the Don Verdi Orchestra.


Another dance music genre is called kizomba, its origins can be traced to late-1970s Africa, with influences variably attribed to Angola and Cape Verde

One of the kizomba artists especially those from abroad are G-Amado, born of Cape Verdean immigrants in Portugal as well as Nelson Freitas and Mika Mendes.

Hip hop

Hip hop is also a growing trend in Cape Verdean music both inside Cape Verde and those abroad. The music genre started outside Cape Verde and has gained popularity inside Cape Verde, several of the artists are based outside Cape Verde and the Capeverdean communities abroad including Portugal, France, Angola and the Netherlands. Rappers include Boss AC, others including Jacky Brown and Stomy Bugsy from France, Angolan born Elizio and of the Netherlands Nelson Freitas.

Other music

Cape Verde has also symphonic music along with instrumental music, the most famous being Vasco Martins, he made Cape Verde's first symphonies, also it was one of westernmost Africa's first symphonists. He made eight symphonies including the fourth symphony titled Buddha Dharma, the sixth relating to Monte Verde, São Vicente's tallest point.

Most of the symphonies have African elements.

Other artists include Johnny Rodrigues, an immigrant to the Netherlands, he was the first Cape Verdean artist to have his single reaching number one in another country, it was a hit in both the Netherlands and Belgium's Flanders.

Other artists of Cape Verdean descent include those in São Tomé and Príncipe such as Camilo Domingos from the island of Príncipe which mainly has elements with other African music and those in the United States such as Horace Silver whose father was born in Cape Verde, some of his songs have Cape Verdean music genre, featured in some albums including The Cape Verdean Blues and Song for My Father, some have elements with other foreign music mainly of the Americas.

Other musical instruments

Several of its musical instruments are of African origin including bombolom, cimboa, correpi and dondom.


Cape Verdean music are also have been influenced with foreign artist, one of them was the Brazilian quintet Quinteto Violado who made an album Ilhas de Cabo Verde (1988) which has songs that relate to Cape Verde and its music.

See also


  • Máximo, Susana and David Peterson. "Music of Sweet Sorrow". 2000. In Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark with McConnachie, James and Duane, Orla (Ed.), World Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East, pp 448–457. Rough Guides Ltd, Penguin Books. ISBN 1-85828-636-0
  • Musical documentary Cape Verde: KONTINUASOM
  • Radio Kriola traditional and modern cape verdean music, African and creole music
  • Audio clip (60 minutes): Morna, Batuque and Eugenio Tavares. BBC Radio 3. Accessed November 26, 2010.
  • Audio clip (60 minutes): Cesaria Evora, Bau and Tito Paris. BBC Radio 3. Accessed November 26, 2010.

Further reading

  • Breves Apontamentos sobre as Formas Musicais existentes em Cabo Verde in Os Instrumentos Musicais em Cabo Verde [Musical Instruments of Cape Verde] (Brito, Margarida; Centro Cultural Português: Praia – Mindelo, 1998)
  • Aspectos evolutivos da música cabo-verdiana [Evolutive Aspects of Cape Verdean Music] (Tavares, Manuel de Jesus; Centro Cultural Português: Praia, 2005)
  • Kab Verd Band (Gonçalves, Carlos Filipe; Instituto do Arquivo Histórico Nacional: Praia, 2006)

External links

  • Cabo Verde Music Awards (CVMA)
  • Music and Cape Verdeans in Lisbon (in Portuguese)
  • Musical forms in Cape Verde (pdf) (in Portuguese)
  • All of Cape Verdean music
  • Palco Principal Cabo Verde - The Portal of Capeverdean music (in Portuguese)
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