That Cape Verde's C?saria vora is justifiably called the Queen of Morna, the music with the lilting ache, is beyond question; she can convey emotion in a small inflection of her voice. But the woman also known as the Barefoot Diva is just as surefooted on the more up-tempo coladeiras, and both styles are well represented on this compilation, which pulls from several of her albums over an 11-year period. The tracks of real interest, though, are those that have never seen the light of day before, including a new version of her trademark tune, "Sodade," featuring a duet vocal from Angola's Bonga that adds little to her original version. "Fala Pa Fala" takes her more into Afro-Cuban territory, rhythmically sprung but not especially memorable, and "Embaraca?ao," another duet, this time with Polish singer Kayah, proves equally forgettable. In fact, of the bonus tracks, only one, the lilting "Fidjo Maguado," is the equal of her best work. Those who are fans of vora's honeyed voice will likely already have her albums, and the previously unreleased material is only likely to attract the really hardcore. For those just looking for a way into the luminous world of vora's vocals, however, this is the perfect introduction. ~ Chris Nickson
Cape Verdean songstress Ces ria vora was a bit of a musical late bloomer; she released her first album of morna music (a combination of West African and Brazilian styles) in 1992 at age 47 and, four years later, became an international sensation. Her vocals drew comparisons to Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday, while her down-to-earth "Barefoot Diva" personality won her respect the world over. From 1995 to 2009, vora recorded numerous albums, including the acclaimed CAF ATLANTICO and SAO VICENTE.