Top 3 songs by Cesaria Evora

Legendary Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora, called Africa's "Barefoot Diva," died on December 17, 2011 in Cape Verde at the age of 70, nearly three months after she decided to retire due to ill health. Evora is pictured here performing in Budapest, Hungary, on September 9, 2007.
Attila Kisbenedek

With a rich, earthy voice that simultaneously expressed the melancholies of the world and offered consolation, Cesaria Evora was one of Africa's most distinctive singers.

Known as the "Barefoot Diva" because she liked to perform without shoes on, she always had a down to earth way and never lost touch with her Cap Verdean roots.

She was short and squat and not beautiful. Her performing was simple, she just sang and did not show much emotion on her face. But her singing was full of emotion and captivated audiences around the world.

Evora began singing in Cap Verde as a teenager, often just for drinks. She sang the islands' mournful, blues-tinged, minor-keyed morna music. When she was 50 she vaulted from obscurity to worldwide fame, winning a Grammy and a global audience. She died Saturday at the age of 70 but her music on several fine recordings will live on.

In tribute, here is a clip featuring a short interview with Cesaria. And then videos of her performing one of her most famous songs, "Sodade," and the Latin American classic, "Besame Mucho." And then, I could not help adding my favorite song that she sang, "Maria Elena."

Cesaria Evora — RIP.