Bitori’s ‘forbidden music’ – new installment for Analog Africa

Don’t let Bitori’s Legend of Funaná (The Forbidden Music of The Cape Verde Islands) pass you by – following on from the music of Cabo Verde Space Echo compilation:

Originally recorded in 1998 in Rotterdam, the album Bitori Nha Bibinha revolutionised the uplifting ‘funana’ genre from the Cabo Verdian island Santiago. The album is named after bandleader Bitori, who is hailed for his unique style on the gaita diatonic accordion.

bitori-lpVictor Tavares is Bitori and In the early 50’s he embarked on a journey to the island of Sao Tomé & Principe, hoping to return to Cabo Verde with an accordion. It took the young man two years to save enough money to acquire. Self taught, Bitori developed a distinctive style that quickly found fans among the older generation. Bitori was soon playing local festivities around Praia.

bitori-1But the rural accordion-based sound of funaná was initially banned and frowned upon as music of uneducated peasants. The colonial authorities deemed it too “wild” and it was only following independence in 1975 that the sound spread. Traditional funaná wasn’t recorded until the late 90’s.

A young singer from Tarafal, Chando Graciosa, helped spread funaná beyond its rural roots, travelling and performing overseas. While Bitori returned to Cabo Verde, Chando chose to settle in Rotterdam to pursue his career, but vowed to bring the master to The Netherlands to create a record. In 1997, Bitori Nha Bibinha was recorded and captured the sound Bitori had shaped over the years. The band was formed of drummer Grace Evora and bass player Danilo Tavares and many now consider the LP to be the best funaná album ever made.

On sale at Analog Africa

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