Titina (real name Albertina Rodrigues Almeida) is one of the most authentic voices of Cape Verde, following in the tradition of the country’s greatest singers. Born in the cultural capital Mindelo on the island of Sao Vicente, Titina was singing in the lap of the grand master of Cape Verdean music, B.Léza, when she was just 6 years old. By the age of 12 she was performing in public and being broadcast on radio stations. She recorded her first single when she was 15.
In 1993 she recorded her first album ‘Titina canta B.Léza’ which had a huge following at the time and continues to be sought after to this day. Disenchanted by the recording industry however, Titina avoided returning to the studio, preferring to spend the following decade performing live at cultural events and festivals across the globe. In 2006 she was decorated by the government of Cape Verde for her contribution to its culture.
Today, a lady of mature voice and expression, Titina lives in Lisbon and explores unexpected nuances in Cape Verdean music. Her voice is one of the finest of the so-called ‘saudade Cabo-Verdiana,’ or Cape Verdean nostalgic yearning, able to convey perfectly the romantic sensibility of the ‘moonlit singers’ of Mindelo. Like her famous contemporary Cesaria Evora, she expresses this within the poetic form of morna; though her vocal pitch and purity offer a very different interpretation. It is just as well she has been persuaded to return to the recording studio because for many lovers of Cape Verdean music she is held in increasingly high regard.
‘Cruel Destino’ presents this long-lost voice of Cape Verde in an intimate recording with legendary arranger and instrumentalist Bau, who plays his 12-string guitar throughout. Together they interpret songs by a variety of popular writers: B.Léza, Pitcha, Djack do Carmo, Lela de Maninha, Faria Junior, Ti Goi and the learned poet Gabriel Mariano – all poets of the same generation, living around B.Léza, who was the linchpin of a group of composers living in Mindelo at the time.
According to some, the melodic rhythm we now recognize as morna first appeared on the island of Boa Vista in the late 17th century when slavery still existed, and has evolved to reflect the romantic and lyrical temperament of the islands’ people. Mindelo’s Porto Grande was one of the three main Atlantic ports of the British commercial empire and
when it collapsed men emigrated, leaving their women on the island. Thus songs of morna speak of requited and unrequited love, of departure and returning home, and of nostalgic longing for their beloved homeland. They are romantic echoes from an era when seeing one’s loved one was difficult. This, then, is the world of the Cape Verdean morna.