In the past fifteen there has not been a younger generation of comparable singers with the combination of charisma and talent to reach beyond the converted world music audience and attract the attention of others. Mariza, Souad Massi and Tinariwen, perhaps. Who else? Of all the candidates, Cape Verdean singer Mayra Andrade looks and sounds like the artist most likely to join them. As a first step, she has just been named Best Newcomer in the 2008 Awards for World Music.
Mayra with Mariza (photo Fernando Bento and ConceiÃ§Ã£o Mata)
Having seen Mayra perform onstage with her guitar, I made an assumption that she would be happy to play two or three songs in a radio studio, but it turns out that she is confident playing only one, â€˜Manaâ€™. As Mayra sat down, she pointed out that like most singers, she was more comfortable singing at night, rather than at 10.30 in the morning, especially after having performed the previous evening at the Barbican. But she soon relaxed and became the charming and quick-witted person she had appeared to be onstage.
photo Rui Pires
One thing needed to be cleared up â€“ it was said that she was born in Cuba, but it was apparent that it would not be correct to describe her as being Cuban. No, it was for medical reasons that her mother went to give birth in Havana, but Mayra is a pure Cape Verdean, having lived there as both a child and a teenager.
I was impressed at the maturity of her album, how accomplished it feels, given that she was only 21 when she recorded it. By then, Mayra pointed out, she had been singing professionally for six years, having started singing onstage as a 15-year-old. Almost immediately, people had started encouraging her to make a record, but she had kept saying she was not ready, having neither the repertoire nor a musical approach of her own.
Only when she felt confident about both did she agree to do an album. She recorded it where she lives, in Paris, where she had to train the musicians into learning how to play in a Cape Verdean style, even though they were from elsewhere. Hence, an album that is distinctively Cape Verdean without sounding like any other.
I had hoped to play several other records by exiled musicians seeking to represent the music of their homeland, but we had time for only two: the Russian group based in Berlin who call themselves ErsatzMusika, and Gigi, the New York-based singer from Ethiopia.
Full details will also be posted on the home page under the 'World of Music' lists with weblinks and sleeve images in a few days
Woke up early, still in a dream and serendipitously happened upon Charlie's interview with Mayra Andrade and heard her sing DimokrÃ¡nsa.
Such a sublimely beautiful experience in the quiet of the morning.
Thanks so much, Charlie.
2. yetunde, lagos, nigeria
Love the program this weekend. Especially enjoyed the music of Mayra Andrade. Her voice and music reminded me of Corinne Bailey Rae.
like to recommend a new Nigeria artist -I think she lives in France- Asa or Asha, lovely music, sings in Yoruba and english. Have not been this excited about an local artist since the gospel group Infinity gave us-"Olori Oko" and Lagbaja came to town.
3. duncan melvin
dear charlie, monday, april 14th, 3am
I returned from Portugal very late on Sunday night and after a long day travelling i went to sleep on your studio interview with Mayra Andrade. And so i woke up and listened to this wonderful, unique and special woman and her voice.
Wow, how my late father David Melvin would have loved her voice and the magic of her music. I'm sure you remember e-mails from my father who followed your programme on the world service for years. The comfort and peace your programme gave him helped to keep him alive alongside all the other support he received until his death in february 2007.
Thankyou charlie for making his nights calm and restful and in daylight hours inspiring for him and his children. He would tell us of musicians he had listened to and we would go in search of some really great music, for example congotronics which i have used in my dance, drama and music teaching and now mayra andrade who inspired me in the middle of the night, got me up and made me write this e-mail to you.
I will go in search of her music and i am sure i will be listening to it and using it in my work. My sister in Portugal will love it and she too is a charlie gillett fan.
We hope your programme continues to air for years to come and we are sure David can hear you in the heavens above as he dances away with our late mother. thanks charlie from a tired , but very peaceful traveller.
Last edited by Charlie on Mon Apr 28, 2008 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
It was a lobster with a toffee apple stuck in its claw, under an inexplicable impression that Mayra would so easily be lured into its clutches.
Not taking any chances, I grabbed its wrist (do lobsters have wrists? yes, they do); but as you can judge from my expression, the lobster then started to do unspeakable things to me with its other claw.
I tried to put on a brave face, but this was the best I could do in the circumstances.
I'm sure with that beautiful girl by your side nothing else really mattered - fortunate man :-)
A thought that strikes me though is wondering if anyone else (i.e. grumpy old gits aged 45+) finds it difficult to look normally at beautiful girls (and I suppose it may be the same for the other half of the population the other way round.) I mean I want to look really carefully and imprint the beauty on my mind and just appreciate it. But, then of course staring is very rude, so I'm reduced to furtive glances and staring at my feet. That too is probably rude! I wonder if the girl herself finds it strange that no-one can look at her properly. Maybe that's why gay men and girls seem to get on so much better, because they can just look normally! (I think probably it's the same if the girl has er assets!)
If any beautiful girls would like to help me out and help me learn to act normally, my phone number is 01782 ....