Born: May 20, 1981 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Carmen Souza was born in Lisbon (81) within a Christian family of Cape Verdeans. She grew up in a mixed language environment of Creole, the Cape Verde dialect her parents spoke at home, and Portuguese, always surrounded by the Cape Verdean way of life.
In her teens she sang professionally in a Lusophone Gospel Choir. Being a strongly spiritual person, Carmen always saw music as her mission and felt privileged to have the opportunity to express herself through it, working hard every day to deserve that opportunity. Musicians like Luis Morais, Theo Pas'cal, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret, Diana Krall, etc, are definitely those that truly inspire her evolution and search for a unique personal style.
Theo Pas'cal, her producer and mentor and one of the best bass players in Portugal, discovered her talent and introduced Carmen to Jazz, Fusion and other contemporary sounds that markedly influenced her musical development.
In 2003, Carmen began working with Theo on the compositions that would be included on her début album Ess ê nha Cabo Verde. Carmen wanted to create a new sound, in her ancestor’s dialect Creole, that would mix traditional African and Cape Verde rhythms like Batuke, Morna, Cola djon, and others, with her jazz contemporary influences, in a totally intimate and acoustic vibe, different from the traditional festive environment of Cape Verdean sounds.
Ess ê nha Cabo Verde, was released two years later in 2005 to critical acclaim and led to her international breakthrough performance at the WOMAD at Reading Festival of the same year.
In “Verdade” her second album, which She co-produces and features on Wurlitzer and guitar, released in 2008, Carmen Souza signs an exciting and melodically vibrant repertoire in Creole that once again received amazing reviews from the International Press worldwide.
Since then Carmen has wowed the crowds on larger stages leaving a trace of deadly captivating performances with her unmistakably female, but dark, deep and earthy voice.
After 2 critically acclaimed albums, Carmen Souza returns in 2010 with the impressive Protegid (Protected) that blends perfectly with elegance and sophistication the African and Cape Verdean traditional rhythms with Contemporary Jazz and Afro-Latin. This groundbreaking album presents a highly innovative sound & a continuation of the work already initiated in the two previous albums: pushing the limits of what constitutes the Cape Verdean music, World Music and Jazz.
This new set of songs showcases Carmen Souza's excellent ability for melodies and lyrics while exploring her mesmerizing colourful, versatile and expressive voice. “Expressive, able to tell these wonderful texts without losing a single syllable and giving them an impressive intensity. The timbre records show domination and sensitivity that goes through states of mind difficult to translate musically.” Say Portuguese Ethnomusicologist Domingos Morais.
Carmen Souza's vivacious Protegid opens a window to another world entirely, cranking up the tempo, slicing up the syncopated rhythm to resembleThelonious Monk's Evidence and allowing her to power her voice with the assured intuition and inventiveness of a jazz singer. SONG OF THE DAY - NPR - USA
Singing in a colorful, eclectic Portuguese-based Creole, Souza illuminates, stretches, and snaps back the elastic connections between Latin, African and Arabic music, American jazz and the music of Cape Verde. Souza conclusively proves that the world music evolution/revolution has transformed modern vocal as well as instrumental music. ALL ABOUT JAZZ-USA
The whole disc is a landmark that will prompt you to embrace and at the same time rethink everything you know and love about the sounds of Cape Verde. WORLD MUSIC CENTRAL-USA
4 STARS Sometimes this Cape Verdean singer's sound is pure Billie Holiday, sometimes she gives the impression of Eartha Kitt on speed, sometimes her vocal pyrotechnics evoke a young Cleo Laine...The title means protected, and the poetic voice is as original as the musical one. THE SCOTSMAN-UK
4 STARS Suprising is her version of Horace's Silvers 'Song for my father' Pianoplayer Idiabonya lets the influence of Chucho Valdes play here and together with Carmen and bassplayer Theo Pas'cal they create a gripping version of Cape Verdian Afro Jazz fusion. JAZZ MAGAZINE-NL
4 STARS Incredible original voice...surprising version of Sodade... chilling Mara Marga TIME OUT LISBON-PT
4 STARS It's tempting to compare any female Cape Verdean singer to the godmother of the island's indigenous morna music, Cesaria Evora, but that would be unfair to a vocalist as gifted, and as singular, as Carmen Souza...Souza's voice is a remarkably lithe instrument, sensual, percussive, soulful, and capable of exploring multiple moods within a given line of a given track. ALL MUSIC GUIDE-USA
5 STARS Souza’s throaty, shaky, wide-ranging vocals sometimes need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but her instinct for the tone of a tune is rarely off and when she needs to sing a simple line, her voice has warmth and character. One gets the feeling she’s a team player and indeed with Pas’cal’s compositions, strong instrumental performances and Souza’s empathy, it is this feeling of genuine music- making that shines through this collection. CULTURE CAPITAL-UK
4 STARS- JAZZTHETIK-DE
4 STARS- WORLD MUSIC MAGAZINE- SP
4 STARS- ATHENS VOICE-GR
The lyrics this Cape Verdean singer has written have a vivid, passionate energy;Backed with rippling accompaniments from a band blending Afro-Latin and contemporary jazz effects, she beats up a very unusual storm. Just one song � Sodade � plugs her into the grand Cape Verdean tradition, but shows how far she has moved from its original exponent, Cesaria Evora. THE INDEPENDENT-UK
Carmen Souza may share a Creole tongue with her Cape Verdean-rooted contemporaries, but that's where the comparisons end. Her voice is singular, mercurial and slightly androgynous. It has a kind of dawn-to-dusk range that approximates several performers simultaneously, bearing more relation to Billie Holiday or even Tom Zé than to Mayra Andrade or Sara Tavares. SONGLINES-UK
This album is an excellent brain-food. JAZZTHING-DE
Some adventurous and lively Cape Verdean action - Omar Sosa lends a hand but Carmen Souza can stand upon her own music feet, no question. WORLD MUSIC CHARTS EUROPE
Protegid, the new album, is definitely a jazz album, and also definitely a Cape Verdean album...Carmen’s music reminds me of music back in the seventies, simultaneously solid and experimental, both inspiration and entertaining, elegantly serious and dancingly enjoyable... BREATH OF LIFE-USA
Imagine if Billie Holiday sang in Creole and revisited her African roots then you would be half way to describing the voice of Cape Verdean Carmen Souza. The globetrotting musician possesses one of the most out-of-this-world voices to come along in a long time.On her album Protegid Carmen gives her vocals a tour of the African Diaspora, leaping back and forth between Cape Verdean music and American jazz. She sings in half-scat and half glissando uttering phrases in alto and then trilling in the soprano with her heavy vibrato voice fluttering like nervous birds. I recall Zap Mama more than I do Cesaria Evora, the Queen of Cape Verdean song. by Patricia Herlevi at WHOLE MUSIC EXP.-USA
With the purr of the late Eartha Kitt, Carmen Souza pours the heart into her music, with the same effect...sensitive , intimate and vivaciuos all the things found in Souza's music.BOSTON POST-GAZETTE-USA
Sophisticated and elegant, with a voice to match, Souza puts American jazz to the music of the Cape Verde Islands.THE STAR-CA
MARK OF EXCELLENCESouza croons and purrs her way through stunning track after stunning track. Driving hard on the lively Tentê Midj, only to evoke aching despair on Sodade, Souza's voice is the embodiment of emotion.EXCLAIM-CA
Her voice, intuitive and powerful as the best jazz singers, is elegant even when she hits the limits of her personal proposal. [Carmen Souza is] one of those artists that with each new album makes an extensive exercise of her independence. SONS DE LA MEDITERRANIA MAGAZINE- SP
Spectacular, flexible and brilliant voice RITMOS DEL MUNDO MAGAZINE- SP
This Women should, go by her own right, to the podium of the great female voices from Africa...B!RITMOS- SP
Carmen Souza is certainly one of the most interesting voices of the new generation of so-called World Music...World Music with Class MESCALINA- IT
Carmen Souza, c'est une pincée de Billie Holiday, un soupçon de Nina Simone et un c�'té rebelle à la Mina Agossi. Énergisante! JAZZFRISON-FR
MORE REVIEWS AT: www.carmensouza- protegid.blogspot.com
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