Maria de Barros
Dança Ma Mi (Dance With Me) (Narada 70876-19198-2-0, 2005)
Cesaria Evora remains the most recognizable name in Cape Verdean music, though numerous others from that small island nation off Africa’s western tip have rightly earned international acclaim.
She was born to Cape Verdean parents in Senegal and spent her early years in Mauritania before honing her singing skills among the Cape Verdean expatriate community in Providence, Rhode Island (USA). She resides in Los Angeles these days, and her music has the sort of range befitting a singer who has lived in more than one hemisphere.
Her 2003 debut Nha Mundo (also on Narada) was a fully realized mix of lushness and might, encompassing the characteristic Cape Verdean fusion of Afro-Portuguese roots with Latin and Caribbean swing. The new Dança Ma Mi has a more stripped-down sound, touches many of the same bases as the first disc and, true to its title, aspires to make you move. It succeeds with depth and grace, featuring the percolating groove of coladeira and funana tunes and sweetening the pot with a few well-placed mornas (the bluesy style spun off from Portuguese fado).
“Amor Luz” opens the disc on a brightly infectious note with a melody centered around the strumming of the ukulele-like cavaquinho and de Barros’ rich and subtly textured voice. The rest of the album moves from celebratory (“Bo Ke Nha Boy,” “Sol Di Manho”) to sensual (“Caresse Moi”) to lamenting (“Oumai”),
giving every song a distinctive sparkle. With Cape Verdean music now firmly established on the global scene, fans of it will no doubt welcome Maria de Barros’ blend of fresh and familiar to the fold.