More than an art form: In Cape Verde, music boosts economy and tourism

It's a familiar sound in prior, the Cape Verdean capital. Music reverberates everywhere you go, in both rich neighbourhoods and poorer ones like here in Southende, the rhythms are inescapable. Every Sunday People come here and knock on the door and ask if they can play. We call it Talkatina, the act of gathering here to play traditional caperdian music. In this music school, 25 pupils, mostly under the age of 10, learn to play guitar, piano, bass and drums. A first album is on the way, featuring 8 songs they wrote themselves. Despite their young age, they are far from beginners. I started to play when I was very little. I've always been around music because my mum is a singer. Music has always been my passion. I always sing at home and my dream is to become a singer in Cape Verde. Musical stardom is more than a child's dream. Ever since the international success of Cesaria Evora, the music industry has served as one of the key drivers of the archipelago's economy. Many rely on it in one way or another to make a living. Katya Samedo is busy rehearsing for a big performance. Originally from another African archipelago called Sao Tome and Principe, she came to Prior 10 years ago to try her luck as an artist. When I got to Prior, other musicians gave me a chance. They helped me get to places, singing in bars and restaurants to show what I can do in Cape Verde. That's our school. Most Cape Verde and artists don't learn how to play by taking lessons. They don't receive formal training. She has played all over the island over the past eight years, following in the footsteps of her heroes, including here at the famous Quintal de Musica Cafe. This is Cesaria Abora, our heroine, the barefoot diva. But Ildo Lobo Banner and Tito Perez also played at this venue. This is truly a temple of music. The success of local artists is a source of pride in the archipelago and has helped boost tourism. Some experts estimate that around 1/4 of all jobs in Cape Verde are linked to the music industry. This street Rua pedal now is quite popular. There are lots of bars with concerts that draw tourists. They come to eat and listen to music. Many are pushing for further growth of the music industry here. Every year, Prior hosts the Atlantic Music Expo, an unmissable event for professionals from Cape Verde itself, but also from around the world. A four day schedule of conferences, concerts and exhibitions draws artists, producers and other players in the industry and even members of the government. It's very important for the country to promote itself through this kind of event. It's very important economically because it helps boost our reputation and our lure for tourists. Music has played a crucial role in the economic development of Cape Verde. At the start of the 2000s, Cesaria Evora reached the peak of her fame and made the archipelago known to the world. As a result, tourist numbers boomed and per capita GDP tripled between 2001 and 2008. The country is trying to coax new stars onto the scene through events like this one. That is the dream of Jose da Silva, the man who discovered Cesaria Evora. We don't have industry. We are not a rich country. We have to sell our music, culture, sun and beaches. We are obliged to invest a lot in our culture to draw the world here. The big day has arrived for Katya Samedo, the young singer from South Tomei and Principe. She has been on Jose da Silva's books for five years. Today she has the chance to show off her first album on stage at the Atlantic Music Expo, a moment that could be a turning point in her career. It's a big step up for me to be here. I know other singers for whom this opened the door to European tours. Life as a musician in Cape Verde is not always easy. 2/3 of those in the industry are working informally. A new law that would give a special status to artists will be voted on in the coming months. This move would only further cement the archipelago's reputation as one of Africa's pioneering cultural forces. Thank you.

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