Cesaria Evora, the Grammy-winning singer from Cape Verde who brought that nation’s morna music to a wide international audience, died today, her label Lusafrica reported. She was 70 years old.
Evora, who was known as the “Barefoot Diva” for her habit of performing without shoes, was born in 1941 on the Cape Verde island of Sao Vicente, off the coast of West Africa. She began singing at the age of 16 in the local sailors’ taverns and recorded her first album in 1988, when she was 47. Her 1995 album Cesaria garnered her first Grammy nomination and brought her international acclaim. In 2003, Evora won a Grammy in the World Music category for her album Voz D’Amor.
The singer underwent open-heart surgery last year, and retired from singing in September after suffering a stroke. Evora had been hospitalized with respiratory failure and pulmonary edema on December 16.
Evora, who had a son and a daughter, died at the Baptista de Sousa Hospital in her hometown of Mindelo.