- This is an article I wrote for Loud News, March 2008, about Carmen Souza playing for Nyodema (a community group promoting world music).
- Nyodema’s next music event brings acclaimed Cape Verdean artist to Bognor Regis on the south coast of England.
With one foot in Africa and the other tapping around the globe, Carmen Souza successfully brings together a wide variety of musical styles with influences from as far apart as American soul and the music of her ancestors.
Carmen, born in Lisbon into a Cape Verdean family, grew up speaking a mixture of Creole, which her parents spoke at home, and Portuguese. Her father frequently worked away on cargo ships but whenever he was home she loved listening to him sing and play guitar.
At 14 she joined her church choir and her professional career started at just 17 years old when she joined the Lusophone Afro-Gospel choir “Shout”. Over the next couple of years she also toured with bands “Quamundo’s” and “Funky Messengers”, working with numerous musicians including Theo Pas’cal, one of Portugal’s best bass players. He introduced Carmen to jazz, fusion and other contemporary sounds.
Together they worked on compositions, striving to create a unique sound in the Creole dialect (from Cape Verde – an archipelago off the West African coast) bringing together African and Cape Verdean rhythms such as morna and funana with more contemporary influences of jazz and soul.
Her first album Ess ê nha Cabo Verde (This is my Cape Verde) released in 2005, received great reviews and at her international live solo debut at Womad on BBC3′s “World on your Street” stage, copies of her CD quickly sold out.
In 2006 Carmen returned to the UK with a five gig tour following the release of a completely reworked Roots version of her CD, emphasising the qualities of her voice and the African rhythms.
In July of that year Carmen played the main stage at Toronto’s 18th Annual Afrofest – the biggest African music and cultural event in North America. Her CD sold more copies than any other artist at the festival.
In 2007 Carmen toured Korea, Canada and the UK. I was lucky enough to catch her at the Amberley Folk Club last March. Right from the start the audience was captivated by her soulful voice and drawn in by her likeable presence, the hypnotic melodies and subtle arrangements. An easy rapport developed with the crowd, who, by the end of the set, would have welcomed many encores.
With the release of her new album Verdade (Truth) in February 2008 Carmen is touring the UK once more.
On Saturday 15th March 2008, with Theo accompanying her on bass and percussion, Carmen is performing at The Waverley, Marine Drive, Bognor Regis. This gig, organised by Nyodema alongside ActionAid’s Bollocks to Poverty On Tour, is being held to raise funds for health and educational needs of children in The Gambia, West Africa. Talented local trio Six-fifteen will start the evening off around 7.30pm. Tickets £5. Doors open 7.00pm.
I would like to thank The Cape Verde Experience and their staff for sponsoring this event and supplying all the raffle prizes. The gig was a sell out and we were lucky enough to welcome Carmen back again to Bognor Regis in October for another wonderful evening. Photographs of this event by Adam White can be viewed on Flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyodema/sets/72157622306912649/