Mayra Andrade – vocals
Nicholas Vella – keyboards
Euclides Gomes – guitar
Swaeli Mbappé – bass
Tiss Rodriguez – drums
Mayra’s singing is radiant and nuanced, epitomising her extraordinarily well-travelled upbringing; her father fought for Cape-Verdean independence, a struggle supported by Cuba. When there were fears for his wife’s health during pregnancy, she left to have her child in Havana. She spent her early childhood travelling with her parents through countries as vast as Senegal, Angola and Germany. When she returned to Cape Verde at the age of fourteen, she began to sing.
Andrade’s compositions are sung in Cape Verdean creole, English and Portuguese. Her take on pop spans the world’s entire vast sweep from Western romanticism to Southern sensuality, and domestic reggae to African 3/4 time. As her biography says, it is “topical, tropical, traveling pop”. Her aim was simply to make « music that reflected my life ».
Mayra Andrade is part of a generation strongly attached to its Cape-Verdean identity, yet there are twice as many Cape Verdean citizens abroad as there are at home – “but,” she says, “Cape Verde hasn’t yet embraced modernity as much as other countries have. We’re kind of where Brazil was in the days of samba and bossa nova.”
Still, Mayra has high ambitions for Cape Verde’s music, and is seemingly leading the way – her next album Manga, in Creole and Portuguese, brings together the sounds of modern African music from the continent (it was recorded in Abidjan and Paris) with her Cape-Verdean roots. It features Kim Alves, the famous Cape-Verdean multi-instrumentist, along with a new generation of West African musicians, with the producer 2B from the Ivory Coast overlooking it all.