Cape Verdean Music of Amandio Cabral
August 15, 2000
 Cape Verdean Music of Amandiio Cabral
Portuguese Tribune .   . .   . .   . Serving the
community since 1979
    15 de Agosto de 2000 .   . .   . .   . ENGLISH SECTION

By Anne Treseder

    Caboverdians from all over California and around the world gathered in Sacramento on July 28-30, to celebrate the 25th (Silver) Anniversary of the Republic of Cabo Verde.

    The Celebration was sponsored by the Capitol Cabo Verde Association (Sacramento), the Cape Verdean West Association (San Francisco Bay Area), and the Cape Verdeans of Southern California, and was coordinated by a committee chaired by Beatrice Nickerson.

    The weekend event included music, a cultural display, contests, a fashion show, a picnic, dancing, serious discussion about the economic situation in Cabo Verde, and a special tribute to Caboverdian musician and composer Amandio Cabral, who now makes his home in San Francisco.

    Cabral, who was born in 1935 on the island of Sao Nicolau in Cabo Verde, is the composer of such standards as "Sodade," "Xandinha," and "Frutu Proibido," which have been recorded by Caboverdian musicians such as Cesaria Evora, Bau, Fantcha, and Teofilo Chantre. His compositions are appreciated and played by jazz artists as well, including San Francisco's Larry Dunlap Quintet.

    Cabral is also an accomplished singer who has performed in Cabo Verde, the San Francisco Bay Area, Lisbon, Europe, Africa, and elsewhere. His vocal CD's include "Tristalegria" (Lusafrica), and "Basiode N'Amor" (Coit Records). For these reasons, he has been called "the Irving Berlin" and "the Frank Sinatra" of Cabo Verde.

    At the Saturday morning program, Cape Verde's Ambassador to the United States (Amilcar Spencer Lopes), its Secretary of State for Immigration (Marly de Menezes Barbosa Vicente), Caboverdian diplomat Custodia Lima, and Linda Barros, an activist in Massachusetts and a member of the Cabo Verde National Assembly, spoke with moderator Tony Lopes about dual citizenship, immigration, and Cabo Verde's need to spend its money prudently, in light of its limited revenues and natural resources.

    The officials reported that Cabo Verde is developing a cyber-university, so that its students will not be required to travel abroad to obtain a college education. Similarly, computer technology will be developed to allow doctors in Cabo Verde to consult with medical specialists in Lisbon and elsewhere.

    Luckily, Cabo Verde has tremendous and talented human resources, both at home and in the diaspora. Caboverdian-Americans were urged to develop sister-city relationships between U.S. and Cabo Verde cities, to adopt Caboverdian schools and hospitals in need, and to sponsor scholarships so that students from Cabo Verde might be able to study in Portugal, Brazil, and/or the United States.

    Caboverdian organizations in California and elsewhere are already involved in such efforts. These endeavors could be greatly enhanced, however, with input from the larger Lusophonic community in the United States.

    But the Celebration featured more than serious discussion. Elario Monteiro brought everyone up-to-date on how the Internet can be used to learn about Cabo Verde history, culture, and current events, and to plan your next (or first) trip to Cabo Verde. And there were lots of creative activities for the many children in attendance.

    A big hit with all age groups was the Culture Room ("Casa de Morabeza"), prepared and staffed by Iris Barboza, Abel Barboza, Rusty Mendez, Gladys Pereira, Maria De Pina, and others. It was filled with exhibits, books, magazines, cultural objects, travel information, and assorted media. Vernon Gomes presented a lively computer "Who's Who" of Caboverdian history and culture -- with great sound and visual effects.

    For "trivia" buffs, there was a fast-paced quiz of Cabo Verde facts and figures, ably moderated by Abel Barboza. It was won by the San Francisco Bay Area's own Isabel Gomes White.

    On Saturday evening, the conference celebrated the work of Amandio Cabral, in a program moderated by Joe Lopes and Pat Correia. Ambassador Lopes presented Cabral with a special medal from the Republic of Cabo Verde, honoring him for a lifetime of musical achievement. The California Caboverdians presented Cabral with a "So Sabe" award, for opening the doors for all the Caboverdian musicians who followed him, including those who now enjoy worldwide fame.

    The audience responded with loud applause, some happy tears, and a standing ovation. Cabral, who is recovering from a stroke, told the audience jokingly, "Luckily for you, I cannot speak! 'Mas, com voz ou sem voz,' I very much appreciate this honor."

    The Saturday evening gala concluded with dance music by the Troubadours (from Brockton, Massachusetts), who played modern arrangements of classic Caboverdian mornas that were up-tempo but retained the sweet "sodade" of the original compositions.

    The dancing continued long into the night, as did joyful talk, and hugs and hellos among people renewing acquaintances from years past. The whole ballroom was alive with the special spirit of Cabo Verde, a spirit that continued at the daylong picnic on Sunday in Howe Park. The Troubadours strolled from table to table there, serenading the many families who had come out to eat scrumptious Caboverdian food, enjoy the company of good friends, and feel the cooling summer breeze.

    Viva Cabo Verde!! And Parabens to Cabo Verde on its Silver Anniversary!!
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(To subscribe to Voz do Caboverdiano, the California Caboverdian newsletter, write to: CVSC Newsletter, Box 8178, Los Angeles, CA 90008; subscriptions are $20 per year. This article was reprinted in the August 2000 issue of Voz do Caboverdiano.)
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