The Voice of Cape Verdean Soul: Mayra Andrade

Mayra Andrade photographed by Joao Wainer

Mayra Andrade photographed by Joao Wainer

It’s not often that I become completely enamored with a musician, but it was unavoidable from the moment I heard the voice of songstress, composer, guitarist and percussionist Mayra Andrade .

The 27-year-old Cape Verdean singer, who was born in Cuba and now lives in France, is on a mission to breathe new life into Cape Verde’s beloved musical genre called morna .

Made popular by international superstar Cesária Évora , who passed away in December of last year, morna is often referred to as “the soul of Cape Verde.”

It’s what tango is to Argentina; what rumba is to Cuba and Mayra holds to the traditional, early 20th century sound of morna while infusing styles from all over the world. You may find that much of her sound is laced with several hints of influence from Brazilian Samba and American Jazz.

Mayra Andrade photographed by Jacques Beneich

Mayra Andrade photographed by Jacques Beneich

She delivers her intoxicating vocals—which may sometimes be soft and sweet and other times deep, warm and gritty—singing in Portuguese, Portuguese and French creole, and English as well. Her laid-back style is very similar to one of her contemporaries, and one of my favorite Portuguese artists, Sara Tavares .

Mayra seduces you over the morna strings but will sometimes stop and play with the notes, imitating the percussion in a style that evokes the great Ella Fitzgerald .

The technique is demonstrated perfectly in a melancholy ballad entitled, “Comme S’il En Pleuvait” which was all I needed to hear to become captivated by her (watch below).

It should also be mentioned that it is incredibly difficult to take your eyes off of her—she’s beautiful and omits a recognizable super star quality. Whether she’s singing a love song or the saddest lyrics ever, her subtle movements and gorgeous smile keep you enchanted during live performances.

Mayra ‘s released three highly-regarded albums: Navega in 2007 ( iTunes / Amazon ); Storia, storia in 2009 ( iTunes / Amazon ); and Studio 105 in 2010 ( Amazon ).

Following a recent appearance at globalFest 2012 in New York City, Mayra has a list of upcoming international show dates including Brazil on February 18th for Carnaval , France—all throughout March, and Cape Verde and Switzerland in April.

As always, I will use this weekend to share my new musical obsession with my father while you enjoy footage of Mayra ‘s remarkable live performances below.


Watch Mayra Andrade – “Comme s’il en pleuvait” Live

Watch Mayra Andrade – “Kaka Barboza/ Dimokransa” Live

Watch Mayra Andrade – “Stória, stória” Live


Keep up with Mayra on Facebook at .

a huge thank you to OkayAfrica and .