Cesária Évora, the Cape Verdean singer, has retired from music for health reasons. In an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde she said: "I'm sorry, but now I have to rest. I have no energy. I infinitely regret having had to absent myself because of illness – I would have liked to keep giving pleasure to those who've followed me so long."
Her record label, Lusafrica, said: "Her Paris doctors told her she had to cancel her tour, so Cesária and her producer and manager Jose da Silva decided to end her career, and give up this wandering life that has taken her to the four corners of the world." Evora has suffered health problems for several years, and had open-heart surgery in May last year following a heart attack.
The Cape Verdean musician has been hailed as one of the world's greatest "morna" singers. The ballads of loss and homesickness that led to comparisions to Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday are considered the national music of Cape Verde, much as fado is for Portugal.
Evora, 70, began singing in the bars of Mindelo on São Vicente. Her international career only began in 1988 when she was invited to Paris to make a record, La Diva Aux Pieds Nus – which spread her "barefoot diva" nickname worldwide. By 1995, her Cesária album was released in 20 countries and nominated for a Grammy, and Evora began touring major concert halls across all five continents over the next 15 years. Her UK tour, scheduled for later this year, has been cancelled.