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Mayra Andrade’s Lunar Mission

mayraI enjoy cathartic, noisy racket as much as just about anyone, but there are times when I just need music to transport me breathlessly and rapturously to a magical place I’d never see on my own. As a little kid with a homemade cardboard rocket, I remember hearing Julie London’s version of “Fly Me to the Moon” and not admitting to my friends how much that song played with my head. A more contemporary lunar mission can be found on Mayra Andrade‘s gorgeous “Lua,” one of the high points of her excellent debut album, Navega. That album has gained Cape Verde more recognition than any record since Cesaria Evora‘s 1992 landmark, Miss Perfumado. The earthy Evora mostly sings in the mournful morna style, which makes me think of Portuguese fado. Andrade sings stirring mornas as well, but she also sounds more like the world traveler she is (she was born in Cuba, and in addition to Cape Verde, has lived in Germany, Angola, Senegal, and her current Paris).

As a teenager, Andrade became entranced with the music of one of my favorite singers, Brazil’s Caetano Veloso, whose fluid shifts between the breathy parts and the rapturous parts are echoed on Navega. She also had the opportunity to work with Orlando Pantera, credited in his country with revolutionizing the traditional Cape Verdean batuque. Sadly, Pantera died in 2001, reportedly on the day before he was supposed to go to Paris to work on his debut record.

The album version of Andrade’s “Lua” has the rhythmic intensity Pantera became known for, but the acoustic version below provides a clearer opportunity to focus on Andrade’s otherworldly voice.

Mayra Andrade, “Lua”

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