Photo: Janto Djassi.

The Acoustic Cabo Verdean Sounds of The Ano Nobo Quartet

The Strings of São Domingos offers a a global story with Cabo Verde at its center—a creole melting pot in the middle of the Atlantic attracting the best from four continents.

Vik Sohonie, founder of Ostinato Records, gives us some background on his upcoming release 'The Strings of São Domingos' by The Ano Nobo Quartet.

In 1989, as the Berlin Wall collapsed in front of the world’s eyes, a burly soldier from Cabo Verde stood on the East German side. Nicknamed “El Bruto” or “The Brute” because of his “brutally” good prowess on the guitar, Pascoal watched the end of an era in full uniform, the ever dutiful soldier. As a member of the FARP, the armed wing of Cabo Verde’s independence struggle, which was backed by the Soviet Union, Pascoal was dispatched the world over—from Cuba to Crimea to East Berlin.

Being stationed in Cuba gave him access to a world of guitar music. His stints in the Caribbean and the Crimean Peninsula were alongside soldiers from elsewhere in Lusophone Africa and the former colonized world. Not required on the battlefield, these military postings became cultural gatherings and, quite simply, jam sessions, where sounds and techniques were exchanged.

Today, along with fellow guitar maestros, Fany, Nono, and Afrikanu, Pascoal leads The Ano Nobo Quartet, named after Cabo Verde’s most legendary composer, Ano Nobo, Pascoal’s mentor and father to the rest of the group. Until today, Ano Nobo’s face graces murals across the archipelago.

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Soraia Ramos Wants to Take Cape Verde to the World

The rising star brings tells us about her fusion of R&B and kizomba ahead of her first album, and her desire to continue on what Cesária Évora built.

The morning Soraia Ramos woke up to the news brought by her manager, she thought it was an April Fools joke. "I saw the photo she sent me on WhatsApp and, at first, I said it was a fake, but then I realized it was true and cried for hours. It's amazing to see the effort I put on my work being rewarded," she says over a Zoom call. Indeed, to star one of Spotify's humongous billboards in New York City's Times Square was nothing but incredible for the Portuguese-Cape Verdean singer, whose explorations in music started back in 2010 when she began posting self-made videos on YouTube.

Today, Soraia has a place at the top-charts of the disputed Africa's Luso-pop landscape. Her soulful vocals fit in a blend of kizomba flavors and R&B-esque melodies as in "O Nosso Amor," a single with 24 million views on YouTube — an impressive achievement for an artist that hasn't even released her first album. From her beginnings in Lisbon to the day she went global through New York, the path to becoming a rising star was also a comeback home journey to Soraia.

"I've met Cape Verde through music," she says. "The first time I went there, in 2010, it was to play in a show. I got in touch with my roots through music." Born in Portugal, and having lived a couple of years in France and Switzerland, Soraia kept coming and going to her family's home country in the following years. In 2019, she recorded her first hit singing in criolo, the love song "Bai", with a music video recorded in the streets of Praia.

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