Manuel Lopes Andrade, a.k.a. Tcheka, was born on the 20th July 1973 in the port of Ribeira Barca, Santa Catarina district, on Santiago, the most African island of the Cape Verde archipelago. At a very early age, he began to perform alongside his father, Nho Raul Andrade, a highly popular violinist at the island’s village dances and festivities. Tcheka was in good hands. Every wrong note brought a rap on the knuckles from his father’s bow, but he learned quickly and soon made his mark at dances, weddings, baptisms and so on.
However, the boy had other ambitions. At 15, he began to develop a more personal style, based on batuque. One of the first pieces he wrote, “Man’ba des bes kumida dâ”, gave a clear idea of the musical path he wished to follow. His aim was to widen the appeal of batuque, turning it into a beat that everyone would love.
In the meantime, a man must earn his living. Tcheka left his rural home and went to live in Praia, where he became a cameraman for national television, a job that involved travel and broadened his horizons. In Praia, Tcheka met journalist Julio Rodrigues and wrote a number of songs with him. The two played informally in the bars of the Cape Verdean capital. In one of these bars, José da Silva met him and proposed him to record an album…
On his second album, Nu Monda (which means “weeding”), singer-songwriter Tcheka brings us another harvest of musical stories grown in the rich soil of Cape Verdean tradition. With his alert commentator’s eye (perhaps the result of his former work as a cameraman?), he builds bridges that span different areas and periods of sound: tradition and youth, Santiago and music from all over the world…
His songs are like brushstrokes, redolent of the originality of his art, heir to “batuque” (1) – traditionally played with the tchabeta (2) – the beat of African resistance that even the prohibition of drums and the repression of the colonial period failed to stifle.
Moving on from his previous album, Tcheka revels in new audacities. He contracts and dilates – now slower, now faster, more impassioned or intimist – different beats of batuque, a genre the artist maintains “still holds many paths to be explored”. At times, morna chords blend in, at others, the style seems to lean towards funk influences, without ever ceasing to be purely Cape Verdean.
You might call Tcheka as a sort of pop griot, a storyteller whose chosen backcloth is Cape Verde’s rural lands, its animals and plants, its rocks, paths, droughts and rains. His central character is the people of the archipelago, with their saints, holidays, customs and expressions, as well as universal themes of love, friendship, passing time, tragedies, hopes and joys.
Tcheka is a key figure in the musical movement that has transposed the original beat of batuque to the strings of the guitar, and which – after breathing new life into Cape Verdean music – has established itself as a turning point in the evolution of the archipelago’s musical identity – a newborn infant, awaiting the recognition that baptism brings. Some call the movement “batuque do quintal”, because it appeared at the “Quintal da Musica” (an active cultural forum in the city of Praia) in this first decade of a new century. But writer Osvaldo Osório, specialist in Cape Verdean culture, prefers to refer to these musical genres as “narrative songs”, because they always tell a story.
Batuque & tchabeta For a long time, drums were banned by the Church and the Portuguese colonial authorities, but Cape Verdean women found a way to get around this prohibition. Batuque, a beat specific to the island of Santiago in the Cape Verde archipelago, conveys the collective memory and identity of a people. Batuque was first played after work in the fields, traditionally by women. Sitting in a circle, they tapped on a “tchabeta”, a bundle of cloth, normally made of piled loincloths that they rolled up and held between their legs. Depending on the thickness and compression of the fabric used, these cloth drums produced a variety of sounds. Batuque provided an accompaniment for “finaçon”, a vocal style that the women improvised to suit their audience and the occasion. Following African tradition, the singers commented on village events, celebrated farming festivals, births and marriages, and commemorated deaths. Sometimes one of them would enter the “terrero” (the inside of the circle) and dance. Today, these inflexible traditions have been radically updated. Firstly, the women – who hardly ever wear loincloths now – make their drums from plastic bags. Stacked and folded in the customary way, they produce a wide range of sounds (listen to the Terrero album). Secondly, young men like Tcheka are adopting these traditional styles, batuque and finaçon, their childhood lullaby, to assert their African identity more actively.
Barbès, Multiflora and Electric Cowbell Present
SECRET PLANET 2019January 5th, DROM, Avenue A
7:30 - Toomai String Quintet with Miss YaYa
8:15 - Yeni Nostalji
9:00 - Bil Afrah Project
9:45 - Mdou Moctar
10:30 - (secret planetary guest)
11:15 - Yonatan Gat & the Eastern Medicine Singers
12:00 - La Mecánica Popular
12:45 - Greek Judas
Complete lineup for the 16th edition of globalFEST
B.C.U.C. - Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (South Africa) Defiant and hypnotic Soweto sounds
Jeremy Dutcher (Tobique / Canada) Reinvented indigenous Wolastoqiyik songs
Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider: "Dreamers" (Mexico / USA) Sensuous Latin vocals set against dramatic strings
Orquesta Akokán (Cuba / USA) Powerhouse Cuban mambo supergroup
Debashish Bhattacharya (India) Calcutta’s Innovative Slide Guitar Master
Cha Wa (New Orleans / USA) New Orleans brass driving Mardi Gras Indian funk
Amythyst Kiah (Tennessee / USA) Southern Gothic, Alt-Country Blues
Dakh Daughters (Ukraine) Kyiv's Underground Punk Cabaret
Zouk Machine (Guadeloupe / France) The Grand Dame of French-Antillean Zouk
47 SOUL (Palestine / United Kingdom) Electro Dabke from the Palestinian
Combo Chimbita (Colombia / USA) Psychedelic Cumbia-Inflected Tropical Futurism
Gato Preto (Mozambique / Ghana / Germany) Afrofuturist Global Bass
Los gaiteros de San Jacinto folkloric Afro Columbian music. The intergenerational band, was established in the 1940's will be performing at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst June 28th and 29th led by sons and family of the original members, with additional dates in the US and Canada this summer.