Gracindo Évora (born in Salamansa, Sao Vicente island, Cape Verde, in 1969) is an internationally-known Cape Verdean singer, composer and musician (drummer). One of the founders of the bands Livity and Splash.
Everyone who loves kizomba, needs to know Grace Evora’s name, a very influential singer in African, more specifically in the Palop / kizomba communities. His main style is afro-zouk / cabo-zouk.
Sadly, other significant artists from the islands like Gil Semedo, or Beto Dias did not make the breakthrough to become internationally recognized. Luckily, Grace Evora’s name is still big!
Early days with Livity
Started his singing career in 1991, and his first release was with the band Livity in 1993: the song is called Bia, and was an instant hit. He is one of the founders of Livity.
Livity was a band with the following members: Anibel Fortes, Carlos Monteiro, Grace Evora, Johnny Fonseca, Kino Cabral, Roberto Matias, Zé Carlos, Jorge Neto (died in February 2020). Among the Palops (people from the Portuguese-speaking African countries, former colonies of Portugal; Palop is also an identity), Livity is almost like Kassav, but in a smaller dimension; they consider the band like “their own Kassav”.
In December 1994 (1995 – according to Discogs), Grace finally did his very first album named “Total Love”. The most popular song from that album was Coração Blues. This song was actually written by Boy Gé Mendes, a Cape Verdian musician legend (the father of Mika Mendes, a ghetto zouk singer).
The albums followed the success of Total Love:
- Total Love II (1996)
- Romance (1999)
- Aventura (2003)
- Live DVD (2007)
- 2069 (2017)
After Livity, he went to Splash; He is also one of the founders of Splash! The band stick together for 14 years and they did 5 full albums during this fruitful period.
In 1997, Grace Evora and other guest singers (like Arriette, Dina Medina, Milena, Roger etc.) were invited to participate in the Mobass project to produce an album. Important fact is that Johnny Ramos was the producer of this collaborative album with the guest singers. This was not much time before ghetto zouk slowly come to being by Johnny Ramos, Nelson Freitas and others.
Grace Evora as a solo artist (today)
After Splash, Grace Evora became a solo artist: He has been soloing for more than 10 years now, with international recognition. However, this path is not an easy one,
“I try to survive in this jungle”,
as he stated, because it is a difficult industry for African/Palop artists due to several facts:
- There is no organized market for them (they need to pave the ways for success)
- Africans cannot afford to buy the albums (have no economic power)
- Singers need to start over, to introduce themselves to newer (non-Palop) audiences again (even if they are considered as stars, loved and respected in the Palop communities),
- They have to work every day to bring food on the table. Always have to keep refreshing their repertoire with new songs, and to give at least 1-2 concerts every month to break it even.
Biggest influence on Grace Evora’s music and style
Musicians from Cape Verde, namely Boy Gé Mendes (father of Mika Mendes) from Cabo Verde Show, Ildo Lobo (from Tubaroes), and Bana. To sail to international waters, the singers Sting, Michael Jackson, and Phil Collins also inspired Grace.
In the beginning, he imitated them since he was not yet an experienced singer, and after the years, he created his own way of singing, his unique trademark.
The albums of those artists were the books of music for me on how to make music,
Besides singing, he is also a professional drummer. In addition, he can also play the keyboard a little bit. Not every song is composed by him, for example Coracao Blues is written by Boy Gé Mendes.
Lolita – Grace Evora’s most popular song
The most popular song Grace Evora has ever written is “Lolita”. This song exploded not only in Palop communities, but also internationally, in different parts of the globe.
Lolita was so powerful, that when kizomba the dance became popular (in the 2000s), this song came again as if it was a brand-new hit song (although it was released in 1999). Non-Palop folks also parised and talked about it.
In all of his concerts, the audience is asking for Lolita. When he starts the concert, they always ask for Lolita, everywhere he is giving concerts.
As a professional, his best moment as a singer was when in the early 2000s in Angola, when he was on stage, the people has started singing Lolita louder than him; it really touched him. It actually makes him happy that the audience is singing with him.
The biggest difference between Palop and Non-Palop crowds is that the latter generally do not sing with him, because unlike, Palops, they actually don’t know the lyrics well / at all. So, Grace finds it a challenge to figure out what songs they really like.
Grace is preparing his new album, which will be released probably at the end of this year, featuring dance music and some experimental songs. He always likes his most recent album the most, because, as the years pass by, he always has more experience and musicality. Grace finds the biggest challenge in always meeting the expectations of his audience, staying up to date with music industry, and bringing something new into his productions. For example, his single with Amely called “Bo Ki Mi Kre” is afrobeat with a strong Cape Verdian touch; a light and fresh duet.
Other facts about Grace Evora
- His hobby is football (soccer). He is not really a dancer, knowing only some steps.
- The place to like to stay the most: he has many-many friends around the globe, he told us that he feels like he is coming home for a lot of places, cities.
- His favourite own song is called “Lucy”.
- Favourite genre is coladeira if he has to choose between morna and coladeira.
- He is a pro drummer, and can play the keyboard a little.
- He received numerous awards for his music and singing
- He wants to give concerts a lot of additional places of the existing ones. For example, he wants to perform in Asia too, where he hasn’t had the chance yet. He wants to bring his music there, and it would be a new market for him as well.
- He finds distributing his music in a digital era to be challenging. He said in the interview that it is not easy for him to accept this new way of distribution, doing the promotions online etc.
On the differences in music production between the old and new generation of Cape Verdean artists (creativity, musicality, production)
Regarding the creativity of the old/new generations, he considers the major difference in the musicality, and the way the songs are produced. The old songs are longer, allowing to structure the songs the way it has the time to build up, and thus are having better instrumentation:
The new music is short, less structured, new songs does not have a proper bassline. Today’s producers are like beatmakers that make the bass line as simple as possible,
and keep the duration shorter. He added, “some of them [beatmakers] can’t even read ‘do re mi fa so la ti do’”. He likes Djodje and Dynamo from the new artists/singers though.
Angolan versus Cape Verdian music today
He sadly explained that Cape Verdean artists today are not retaining the old ways of doing music (e.g. not with beatmaking on computers). In contrast, Angola is actually retaining the music they used to make (or at least in part – editor). Grace Evora feels the lack of continuity in Cape Verde. He blames himself and feels that all of this is some way his and his peers’ (Kino Cabral, Boy Gé Mendes etc.) fault:
Maybe we should have made more releases.
The new generation is not stepping into their footsteps, not developing the interest in it…
Grace Evora on social media
Grace Evora on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClJbmdewnV8vepAjmwzJMfg
Grace Evora on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/graceevora/
Grace Evora on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100078151695617
Tabanka Weekender with Grace Evora, Credits
This article couldn’t be made possible without the organizers and hosts of the interviews (in 2020, and in 2023). The first online interview was thanks to Eddy Vents. It is only accessible in his closed Facebook group. The second interview was held on Facebook, at the Tabanka Weekender page. The host was DJ Galo Super. Many thanks to them, and the other people involved.
Tabanka Weekender is a festival by Eddy Vents in Madrid, Spain with Grace Evora concert, a lot of guest instructors and good DJs.
The festival is this weekend (24-26 March), so unfortunately it is very late for this promotion, but it is maybe good for the next year’s edition.
- Grace Evora / Livity – Bia (his first release, 1993) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PJxIBeRnBQ
- Jorge Neto / Livity – Rosinha (it was also a hit song released in 1991) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX_NkWEBLVA
- Grace Evora – Coração Blues (from the Total Love album, 1994) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lP-zUMzLnQ
- Grace Evora – Lolita (from the Romance album, 1999) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tYDI98DDUk
- Grace Evora – Lucy (from the Romance album, 1999) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZhrIAwkLmo
- Grace Evora – Aportunidad (from the Aventure album, 2003) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO1p3cyqhU4
- Grace Evora – El e Sabim (from the Aventure album, 2003) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm-DfR2QXAg
- Grace Evora – Imovel (from the Aventure album, 2003) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r727lTfesTY
- Boy Gé Mendès & Manu Lima – Nha Manèra (koladera, 1996) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_6cCsnzTEQ
- Medes & Mendes – Grito de Bo Fidje (1981) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOGaqPEe5PI
- Boy Gé Mendès & Manu Lima – Junta Ma Nôs (style: morna, 1996; Maya Cool made a kizomba remake with the same song title) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCa-Voetij4
- Grace Evora – So bo Pdime (afro-zouk / “light konpa” from the 2069 album, 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYkgkxvn69c
- Grace Evora – Nos 2 Nos Amor (ghetto zouk, 2020) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2w9wUZP5m8
- Beto Dias featuring Suzanna Lubrano – Nos 2 (cabo-love, 2000) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBitWCXny-M
- Grace Evora featuring Amely – Bo Ki Mi Kre (mainly an afrobeat song, 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F84dUOYkZ74
- Mika Mendes – Criola (ghetto zouk, 2008) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reU01us_EY0
- Dynamo – Primavera (ghetto zouk, 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Chb40nzObbM
- Djodje – Avé (ghetto zouk, 2022) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C4Rk-3YxpU
- Boy Gé Mendes (from Cabo Verde Show) https://www.discogs.com/artist/72603-Boy-Ge-Mendes
- Grace Evora https://www.discogs.com/artist/2587172-Grace-Evora
- Livity https://www.discogs.com/artist/1539472-Livity
- Livity – Rapaz Novo (album) https://www.discogs.com/release/12054185-Livity-Rapaz-Novo
- Livity – Livity (album) https://www.discogs.com/release/6618192-Livity-Livity
- Jorge Neto https://www.discogs.com/artist/973920-Jorge-Neto
- Kizomba Dance Library Live – Grace Evora interview (organized by Eddy Vents in 2020)
- Tabanka Weekender – Interview with Grace Evora (2023, organizer DJ Galo Super) https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=3368598960024890
Saida Dance does not receive any money from the people / festivals / artists promoted or endorsed here, or elsewhere on the page! This is open-source project, I am not doing it for the money – András Kizomba, the author of the site.