The new phenomenon of Cape Verdean music is just 26 years old and already has three albums to her credit. Winner of the RFI Prix Découvertes in 2015, Elida Almeida is a native of Santiago island, one of the 10 Cape Verde islands, and grew up in the mountains, without electricity or material comfort. She sang at church, and music became her refuge following her father’s untimely death.
She wrote hope-filled songs while still at high school. At age 17, she composed her first hit, “Nta Konsigui” (I shall succeed), a predictive title, that earned her an award in a local competition and launched her as a singer in local bars. As a university student in communications and already a mother, she helped her own mother as best she could.
Her beautiful deep voice inspired José da Silva, Cesaria Evora’s famous producer, who saw her sing in a Cape Verde bar and immediately signed her to his Lusafrica label. Things moved quickly for Elida, among the few singers to do her own compositions and to write her own lyrics. Her first album, Ora doci, Ora Margos (Sweet hours, dark hours), came out in 2014 with the title track “Nta Konsigui.” Her song soon became a hit in Cape Verde: in just one year, it was viewed a million-and-a-half times on social networks. Elida set out on tour and became known in France and the United States.
Composition came to her naturally with her radio work, and she also wrote for other artists, some of them particularly well known. Cape Verdeans identified with her lyrics, because Elida had been through many trials and tribulations at an early age and did not hesitate to describe social problems such as domestic violence, drugs and alcoholism.
Feeling inspired, she came out with a second album, Kebrada, in 2017, followed soon afterwards by a third album, Djunta Kudjer, with typically Cape Verdean beats – batuque, funaná, coladera and tabanka – infused with Latin energy.
Kebrada took its name from the small village where she grew up and where she goes regularly to visit her grandmother. Elida took the time to record the album with several musicians of Afro descent, whether in Cuba, Brazil or Senegal. The album was recorded in Abidjan, Côte-d’Ivoire, giving her the opportunity to celebrate her African identity.
With her identity established on the international scene, Elida Almeida is ready to explore collaborations with other artists. With Brazilian singer Flavia Coelho, she has gone back to her song “Ki Ta Manda E Mi” in Mo Laudi’s remix version, “Sou Free,” and with Djodje, the favourite singer of Cape Verdean youth, she recorded “É Zomban.”