`The Barefoot Diva'

Critic's choice: Music

October 17, 1999|By J.D. Considine

Cesaria Evora is hardly a household name in America, but those who do know the Cape Verdean singer tend to be almost rabid in their enthusiasm. And no wonder. Not only is "the Barefoot Diva" blessed with a voice of exquisite character and beauty -- a smooth, smoky alto that's as warm and intoxicating as fine Scotch -- but she has the ability to make the longing inherent in a morna (the most enduring traditional song form on Cape Verdes) come through so vividly that listeners may forget that they don't actually understand the words.

Evora's most recent release, "Cafe Atlantico," finds her incorporating a Cuban influence, which adds rhythmic flavor to the mournful melodies. But the Cuban element manifests itself in another way, as she's sharing the bill with singer/guitarist Juan-Carlos Formell, whose album "Songs From a Little Blue House" has been met with raves from the Cuban music press. Evora and Formell perform at Shriver Hall, on the Johns Hopkins University's Homewood campus, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. Call 410-481-7328 for tickets.

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