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Cape Verdean singer's sound attracts audiences that seek the exotic yet familiar

Lura (Deborah Metsch)
Lura (Deborah Metsch)

Portuguese singer Lura performs eclectic music that draws on influences from around the globe.

Born in Lisbon to parents from the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of West Africa, she incorporates French, Brazilian, Cuban, Afro-pop and traditional African music.

"The people that like my music are people looking for different sounds, exotic sounds but at the same time familiar," she said in a phone interview from New York.

She heard all these sounds growing up because her family was very involved in Lisbon's Cape Verdean community.

At her concert next week at the Gallo Center for the Arts, Lura will sing in Creole, a blend of Portuguese and African dialect spoken on the islands. She also plans to do a little dancing.

"For me, it's difficult to imagine music without dance," she said. "I like to show the life of Cape Verdean women. Cape Verdean women, they are happy, they are strong, they like to smile, to dance, they like colors, they like music."

Lura initially just wanted to be a dancer. She didn't even consider singing until she was 17 and a group of dancers she worked with in Lisbon asked her to record some music in a studio. She was surprised to learn she had a good voice and began singing more. Soon, African musicians in Portugal were inviting her to do concerts, first singing background vocals and then moving to lead parts.

She now tours the world, receiving accolades everywhere she goes for her global sound.

She likes to spend her downtime with family and friends in Lisbon, go to nightclubs to dance and watch movies and theater. She said she planned to see a few Broadway musicals while she was in New York.

"It's like school to me," she said.

She looks forward to coming to Modesto and introducing her music to new audiences.

"If you want to come to my concert, you will find a person that loves to do what she does and loves to sing and be on stage and show the culture," she said. "I will give my best to my audience and make everybody together travel on the different rhythms of Cape Verde."