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Tcheka: Dor De Mar

Tcheka: Dor De Mar


When African Business reviewed the young Cape Verdean artist Mayra Andrade’s CD Studio 109 in June last year, it was noted that these Atlantic islands have steadily produced a great number of female singing stars, but very few male voices.

As well as the barefoot diva, Césaria Évora, a plethora of younger Lisbon-born Cape Verdeans – for example Sara Tavares, Lura and Carmen Souza – were among the women that had come to world attention, but somehow we had missed the contribution that the guitarist and singer-songwriter Manuel Lopes Andrade, a.k.a. Tcheka, had made to contemporary Cape Verdean music over the last decade.

Now, with this beautifully recorded album Dor de Mar (The Pain of the Sea), we have the opportunity to make good this oversight. This album includes songs about the environment, love and brotherhood, greed and inequity, respect and humanity, romance and separation – all sung with a rich mixture of both joyful expression and melancholic sorrow.

The Cape Verde-born, Paris-based José da Sílva – producer of many of the fine albums recorded by the recently retired Césaria Évora – also produced this, Tcheka’s fourth album.

A family affair

Tcheka was born in 1973 in Ribeira da Barca, a small rural town on the north-eastern coast of Santiago, Cape Verde, whose modest economy is basically farming and fishing. His father, Nhô Raul Andrade, was a renowned violinist in the area who taught music to his sons and eventually created a small family band that played at local weddings, funerals and baptism festivities.

Tcheka recalls that he learned to play the acoustic guitar under duress at age eight, and by the time he reached nine-years old he was playing in the family band. Like so many young Cape Verdeans, Tcheka’s secondary education had to be cut short because his family could not afford the expense, so his teenage years were spent fishing. But it was a music career that he would eventually return to. While he celebrates multiple Cape Verdean genres such as batuku, funaná, finason, tabanka, morna and coladera, Tcheka’s music also has Caribbean, Brazilian and African influences which he adds to the folk, jazz, blues and rock elements in the mix. He writes his own songs in a modern version of the Cape Verdean traditional rhythm known as batuque, but is also open to so many other influences that his music defies easy categorisation.

The 12 tracks on Dor de Mar co-feature other master musicians including bassist Guy N’Sangué and accordionist Régis Gizavo, and the album’s title track reflects Tcheka’s oft-expressed concern for the environment. Another track, ‘Pexera Porto’, illustrates just why this supple-voiced singer has been compared to Salif Keita.

‘Pexera Porto’ is a song that tells of the harsh social realities that Cape Verdean fishermen have always faced, an ongoing concern for many Cape Verdeans who rely on the ocean for their livelihood.

‘Kriadu Assim’, which opens the album, has an interesting choral approach in a song that conjures up an Atlantic culture where it is an acoustic sound that reigns supreme. Many of the songs that follow reflect the challenge of hard manual labour, such as in the songs ‘Primeru Djobi’ or ‘Storia Estrada’, but where love and joy invariably conquers all hardships.Both tragic and magic, love stories are also explored – for instance on the magnificent ode to the women of Cape Verde ‘Forti Bu Dan Cu Stango’ or the loss of a loved one on ‘Madalena’. ‘Moça de Classe’ tells of a determination to carry on with dignity for the love of a special girl, while the song ‘Antuneku’ is an ode to friendship. ‘Tchoro Na Morte’ with its heart-tugging imploring sobs, returns to the theme of the loss of a loved one.

With this new album (released late last year) Tcheka has consolidated his reputation as one of the great male musicians of Cape-Verde, and underpinned his status as a true ambassador of Portuguese-speaking Africa.

hen African Business reviewed the young Cape Verdean artist Mayra Andrade’s CD Studio 109 in June last year, it was noted that these Atlantic islands have steadily produced a great number of female singing stars, but very few male voices.

As well as the barefoot diva, Césaria Évora, a plethora of younger Lisbon-born Cape Verdeans – for example Sara Tavares, Lura and Carmen Souza – were among the women that had come to world attention, but somehow we had missed the contribution that the guitarist and singer-songwriter Manuel Lopes Andrade, a.k.a. Tcheka, had made to contemporary Cape Verdean music over the last decade.

Now, with this beautifully recorded album Dor de Mar (The Pain of the Sea), we have the opportunity to make good this oversight. This album includes songs about the environment, love and brotherhood, greed and inequity, respect and humanity, romance and separation – all sung with a rich mixture of both joyful expression and melancholic sorrow.

The Cape Verde-born, Paris-based José da Sílva – producer of many of the fine albums recorded by the recently retired Césaria Évora – also produced this, Tcheka’s
fourth album.

A family affair

Tcheka was born in 1973 in Ribeira da Barca, a small rural town on the north-eastern coast of Santiago, Cape Verde, whose modest economy is basically farming and fishing. His father, Nhô Raul Andrade, was a renowned violinist in the area who taught music to his sons and eventually created a small family band that played at local weddings, funerals and baptism festivities.

Tcheka recalls that he learned to play the acoustic guitar under duress at age eight, and by the time he reached nine-years old he was playing in the family band. Like so many young Cape Verdeans, Tcheka’s secondary education had to be cut short because his family could not afford the expense, so his teenage years were spent fishing. But it was a music career that he would eventually return to. While he celebrates multiple Cape Verdean genres such as batuku, funaná, finason, tabanka, morna and coladera, Tcheka’s music also has Caribbean, Brazilian and African influences which he adds to the folk, jazz, blues and rock elements in the mix. He writes his own songs in a modern version of the Cape Verdean traditional rhythm known as batuque, but is also open to so many other influences that his music defies easy categorisation.

The 12 tracks on Dor de Mar co-feature other master musicians including bassist Guy N’Sangué and accordionist Régis Gizavo, and the album’s title track reflects Tcheka’s oft-expressed concern for the environment. Another track, ‘Pexera Porto’, illustrates just why this supple-voiced singer has been compared to Salif Keita.

‘Pexera Porto’ is a song that tells of the harsh social realities that Cape Verdean fishermen have always faced, an ongoing concern for many Cape Verdeans who rely on the ocean for their livelihood.

‘Kriadu Assim’, which opens the album, has an interesting choral approach in a song that conjures up an Atlantic culture where it is an acoustic sound that reigns supreme. Many of the songs that follow reflect the challenge of hard manual labour, such as in the songs ‘Primeru Djobi’ or ‘Storia Estrada’, but where love and joy invariably conquers all hardships.Both tragic and magic, love stories are also explored – for instance on the magnificent ode to the women of Cape Verde ‘Forti Bu Dan Cu Stango’ or the loss of a loved one on ‘Madalena’. ‘Moça de Classe’ tells of a determination to carry on with dignity for the love of a special girl, while the song ‘Antuneku’ is an ode to friendship. ‘Tchoro Na Morte’ with its heart-tugging imploring sobs, returns to the theme of the loss of a loved one.

With this new album (released late last year) Tcheka has consolidated his reputation as one of the great male musicians of Cape-Verde, and underpinned his status as a true ambassador of Portuguese-speaking Africa.

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