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  • Writer's pictureMiles Glaspole

Cabo Verde: Their Eurovision connection

Over the weekend it was the Independence Day of the small nation of Cabo Verde (previously known by its English name of Cape Verde), off the western coast of Africa.

Colonised by Portuguese settlers in the 15th century, the islands were previously uninhabited, and proved an ideal hub for pan-Atlantic trade. Cabo Verde declared independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975, and now exists as a stable democracy of around 550,000 people of mixed African, Moorish, Arab and European heritage, speaking both Portuguese and its local dialectal version, Cabo Verdean Creole.

To celebrate all things Cabo Verdean, here are four Eurovision and Eurovision-adjacent artists with a connection to the island nation:

Sara Tavares (Portugal 1994) – ‘Chamar a música’

Born to Cabo Verdean parents in Portugal in 1978, Tavares is known for her broad catalogue of African, Portuguese and American inspired world music, sung in multiple languages. Tavares won Festival da Canção at the age of 16, and henceforth entered the 1994 Dublin Contest with the romantic ballad ‘Chamar a música’, meaning “call the music”.

The song is about a musician choosing to spend an evening with her lover writing a song about the pair of them, rather than typical superficial distractions. The song finished in a commendable eighth place which at that time was the second highest position Portugal had ever finished.

Tó Cruz (Portugal 1995) – ‘Baunilha e chocolate’

Not to be confused with a certain Scientologist action star, Tó Cruz continued the streak of Portugal sending acts of Cabo Verdean descent. Cruz won Festival da Canção and entered Eurovision with the interracial love song ‘Baunilha e chocolate’, meaning “Vanilla and Chocolate.” The song finished 21st out of 23 entries. Cruz later voiced Quasimodo in the Portuguese dub of Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.

Portugal’s interval act at the 2018 Grand Final – a celebration of Cabo Verdean artists

2018’s interval act featured Portuguese DJ Branko, alongside three Portuguese artists of Cabo Verdean descent – Tavares, as well as Dino D’Santiago and Mayra Andrade, performing a trio of electric-infused numbers.

Dino D’Santiago Cabo Verde-born Dino D’Santiago creates music that fuses modern electronic and club influences with native Cabo Verdean rhythms, and has released two albums – 2018’s ‘Mundo Nôbu’, or ‘My World’, which won the inaugural Portuguese Music Award for Best Album, and 2020’s ‘Kriola’, an album celebrating his own language of Cabo Verdean Creole, featuring another collaboration with Branko. D’Santiago was recently featured in a Rolling Stone article discussing ‘Kriola’ and his musical heritage, which you can read here.

Mayra Andrade

Where D’Santiago modernises Cabo Verdean music, Andrade is about maintaining the traditional Cabo Verdean music/poetry style ‘morna’, which you can learn more about below:

Andrade, who also mostly sings in Cabo Verdean Creole, has released five albums, won the Best Newcomer Award at the BBC World Music Awards in 2008, and since 2015 has been a UN ambassador fighting for the rights of LGBTIQ+ individuals in Cabo Verde as part of the “Fair and Equal” campaign.

So there we have it, quite a few Eurovision connections for a small West African country. The Eurovision Song Contest is certainly a global event.


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