Bastos, Waldemar

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Laments from a Native Son of Angola

When Waldemar Bastos defected to Portugal from his native Angola during its civil war in the 1970s, he encountered music that was to change his life—fado, the heart-heavy "blues" of Portugal, in which love affairs end messily and fate is usually cursed. Incorporating bits of the fado sound with African folksong, Bastos then looked at what he'd left behind. His music, he once said, offers a "response to the fratricide in Angola, a simple message emphasizing the value of all life." His music became popular in his homeland, and though both warring factions embraced his songs, he didn't feel safe enough to return there to perform.

Pretaluz, released internationally in 1998, tells of Bastos's journey through a series of prayerlike meditations. These draw the agile guitar patterns of African pop and the sentimental melodies of fado into a boundaryless sound—music that connects continents without being ostentatiously "multi-culti." Singing wise aphorisms about envy ("Kuribota") or lamenting, in a trembling voice, the cruelty of war ("Sofrimento"), Bastos goes about the work of soul healing with a quiet humility. He's less a social commentator than a poet with gaze fixed on the long view, and throughout this mesmerizing cycle his objective isn't to force change, but to remind anyone embroiled in conflict about beauty, goodness, and the always underestimated power of love.

Genre: World, Angola
Released: 1998, Luaka Bop
Key Tracks: "Kuribota," "Morro do Kussava," "Menina."
Next Stop: Boukman Eksperyans: Kalfou Danjere
Book Pages: 51–52

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#1 from Vítor Fragoso, Faro, Portugal - 09/22/2009 2:42

Dear Tom,

Check out Waldemar’s “Angola, minha namorada”

Best wishes,
Vítor Fragoso

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