Afro-Portuguese songwriter Sara Tavares was born in 1978 and brought up in Lisbon. Second-generation Portuguese of Cape Verdean decent, Sara was brought up by an elderly matriarch in her community after her father left for the States in search of a better life, her mother having traveled south in pursuit of the same ends. Sara showed great musical promise from a young age, a potential that was cultivated and bore fruit while Tavares was still in her teens. Winning the Endemol song contest Chuva de Estrelas, followed by a victory at the Portuguese Television Song Contest in 1994, earned Tavares a slot on the Eurovision Song Contest, all at the age of 16. Her winning song, "Chamar a Musica," was featured on her debut single release, Sara Tavares & Shout (1996), where Tavares mixed gospel and funk with her native Portuguese influences. Performing and writing songs in a mix of Portuguese, Crioulo, and English, Tavares spoke to her own lost generation of Cape Verdeans and Afro-European immigrants who searched to define their unique culture. Her sophomore effort, Mi Ma Bo, released by RCA in 1999, marked a noticeable change in direction toward Afro-pop. The record went gold in Portugal, announcing Tavares' arrival as a national star. After a five-year wait, eager fans were treated to Tavares' third album, released independently in 2006. On Balancê, Tavares penned all of the repertoire and added percussion to her list of credits, in addition to guitar and voice. Full of messages of hope and self-worth, Tavares' Balancê established her as one of the diaspora's most distinct and influential artistic voices. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez
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