Ade da Costa was just an ordinary boy on the tiny island of Maio. Like many Cape Verdeans, he wanted to be a musician. Now he’s got a professional career in Spain.
"When Bana, Cesarea Evora, Ildo Lobo… started to play on international stages, and win a name and take Cape Verde’s name further away from our borders, all Cape Verdeans -men and women- wanted somehow to become singers and tell our stories, because we are islanders… It’s just our way to connect with the world," he said.
Music is more than a passion in Cape Verde; it’s also a way of life. It’s thought that 25% of jobs on the archipelago are related to music and the performing arts.
The Atlantic Music Expo, an initiative by prominent record labels and producers to identify new talent is connecting emerging artists to the international markets.
"The Atlantic Music Expo is of great importance for Cape Verdean musicians, but also for the producers, for all the music industry of Cape Verde. It is their contact with international music but also their opportunity of internationalization," said Augusto Veiga, general director of the Atlantic Music Expo.
Having produced Cesarea Evora and Ildo Lobo, who inspired many musicians in Brazil, Portugal and the rest of the world, Cape Verde is keen to give more.
As they have done for decades, Cape Verdean musicians continue to influence and inspire others today. Artists are incorporating their experiences as members of the diaspora with their Cape Verdean background.
"My trajectory with music is more on the afrobeat influence because I also live in the United States and I listen to world music in general but I think that my mission is to sample as much as I can and use traditional music, but with a modern twist," said June Freedom, a musician and songwriter.
Music is said to be Cape Verde’s biggest export, greater even than fishing. But as performers make a career abroad, the challenge is how to retain the benefits of their talent.
The Cabo Verdean Music Society fights to keep their property rights in the islands.
It’s fair that they pursue an international career, but also return to our home. We don’t necessarily have to migrate; we can keep residing in our country," said Solange Cesarovna, singer, President of Cabo Verdean Music Society.
Abroad or here at home, Cape Verdeans will never stop playing; because music is part of their soul.