She may have been known as the “barefoot diva,” but global star Cesária Évora (1941-2011) was averse to diva-like behavior. This affectionate portrait paints a picture of a singer who, partly by performing barefoot, never forgot her roots in poverty. Her deeply melancholic voice came “from her gut, her life, her country,” as someone explains in the film.
That country is the bone dry landscape of Cape Verde. At the age of 10, Évora found herself in an orphanage because her mother couldn’t take care of all her six children after the death of her husband. She ran away a few years later to work as a café singer. This tough way of life changed when she became a worldwide star at the age of 50. What’s remarkable is that fame left her utterly unchanged.
Cesária Évora uses archive footage, live concerts, interviews, and images of Cape Verde to depict a woman who stayed true to herself and never surrendered her independence. She was scarred by her troubled youth: when asked by an interviewer what her biggest dream was, she replied, “I don’t believe in dreams, ask me something else!”