Cesaria Evora, the Cape Verdean icon who won a Grammy in 2003, died today. She was 70.
Evora, known as the "Barefoot Diva" because she always performed shoeless, died at Baptista de Sousa Hospital in Mindelo, on her native island of Sao Vicente in Cape Verde, her record label Lusafrica announced on its website. It released no further details.
A heavy smoker for years, Evora was diagnosed with heart problems in 2005. In recent years she underwent several operations, including open-heart surgery in 2010. She suffered strokes in 2008 and in September 2011. She announced her retirement following the second stroke.
Evora was the most famous performer of morna, Cape Verde's traditional music, which soulfully blends the far-flung cultures that mingle on the volcanic archipelago off the coast of West Africa, a former colony of Portugal.
Evora didn't reach international fame until later in life. Her 1988 album La Diva Aux Pieds Nus was recorded in France and became a huge hit there. In 1995 her Cesaria sold millions of records across the world, landed a Grammy nomination and led to a major world tour. She won a Best World Music Grammy in 2003 for her Voz D'Amor.
Evora was born on Aug. 27, 1941, and was raised in Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente. She had a son and a daughter but never married. Family details were not available at press time.
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