Different versions of classic Cabo Verdean Morna "Sodade"

Césaria Évora "Sodade" (Longing)

Césaria Évora "Sodade" (Longing) live in Paris, 2004

Words and Music: Amândio Cabral
First appeared on Césaria Évora's 1992 album "Miss Perfumado"

The words are sung in the Portuguese-based creole language spoken on the Cape Verde islands, where the song was written sometime in the 1960s. The song is now sung throughout the Portuguese-speaking world, and here we present several versions. It is one of the most famous examples of Morna, the plaintive ballad style of the islands.

Cabo Verde became independent from Portugal in 1975, after the Portuguese revolution brought the colonial wars to a close. Cabo Verde later split off from Guinea-Bissau, on the African mainland, from where it had been run during Portuguese rule.

"Sodade" seems to mean the same as the Portuguese word "saudade" [sad, alone, yearning, pining, missing you etc], but the music sounds more laid back than, for example, Fado.

What it's about: The singer is missing home and someone far away, and regretting their parting. So it is a classic song of homesickness, and of pining for someone, hence its universal appeal.

Who showed you this long path
Who showed you this long path
This path to São Tomé?

Longing, longing, longing
for my homeland of São Nicolau

If you write to me, I'll write to you
If you forget me, I'll forget you
Until the day you return

Who showed you this long path
Who showed you this long path
This path to São Tomé?

Longing, longing, longing
for my homeland of São Nicolau.

Tito Paris in a live performance for a radio station in Moscow. Based in Portugal, he was born in Cabo Verde, on the island of São Vicente. His name is pronounced TEET ParEESH or PahhEESH - in his own speech he doesn't use the strongly trilled R often found in European Portuguese.

In this version of Sodade he sometimes sings the place he is longing for as Cabo Verde rather than São Nicolau, since he comes from a different island. He left at the age of 19 for Portugal, a very common experience for people from Cabo Verde, who have a long history of emigration. There a large diaspora of Cabo Verdean descent in France, the Netherlands and the US as well as Portugal.

Césaria Évora & Bonga "Sodade"

Here's a duet version Césaria did with the veteran Angolan singer Bonga (born in 1942). He sings with the same rather hoarse "cracking" voice as Tito Paris.

Césaria Évora & Bonga "Sodade" (Longing)

The origins of the song are a bit obscure. Like Fado in Portugal, in Cabo Verde songs evolve over time and different words can get attached to the same tune.

Here's a possible early version of what would become Sodade, performed by the usually-credited writer. He was from São Nicolau, an island with a very small population, mentioned in the song. This has different words, but the tune is similar.

Amândio Cabral "Camim De São Tomé"

Amândio Cabral "Camim De São Tomé" (The road to São Tomé ???)

From the Mornas De Cabo Verde EP (and vinyl) Amandio Cabral 1967


This article is still being worked on, so it's a stub. But I thought it worth including, as the music is well worth hearing if you've never come across it before.

It could do with a biography of Césaria Évora (1941 to 2011), or perhaps that could go in a separate post with more songs from different stages of her career.


Meanwhile here's a Sodade YouTube Playlist with some more versions of this much covered song.

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