Tcheka-Cape Verde’s Batuku Ambassador
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Tcheka, born Manuel Lopes Andrade, was born in Santiago, Cape Verde. He plays traditional percussive guitar and weaves the batuku style (a style traditional to Cape Verde that was banned by the Portuguese, but continued by the women in the fields as they worked. Batuku is performed with a group of people, mostly women, formed into a circle beating a tchabeta, a percussive instrument traditionally made of tightly rolled panos, a cloth woven in rural Santiago which nowadays have been replaced with plastic bags, which is placed in between the thighs and beat with the hands. On the inside of the circle is a narrator who places a pano around the waist and dances the torno to the rhythm while improvising verses, calling to the circle members who respond while maintaining the poly-rhythmic beat of the tchabetas.) Tcheka grew up performing with his father before launching out on his own at the age of 15 and developing his unique style.
One of Tcheka’s first compositions, “Man’ba des bes kumida dâ”, which was recorded by Lura on the Di Korpu Ku Alma CD was well received and helped showcase his talent to the world. It also highlighted the Santiago style of music. He moved to Prraia, the capital of Santiago and Cape Verde, and worked for a while as a cameraman for a national television network before returning to his first love – music. He met a journalist, Julio Rodrigues, who he co-wrote and performed some songs with. He soon released his first album, ‘Argui, in 2003 under the Lusafrica. He performed in several European countries and even recorded a dvd of his live concert in 2004. In 2005 he produced his second album, Nu Monda, which was met with lots of critical acclaim and won him the Radio France International Music of the World Awards on November 11, 2005 in Dakar, Senegal for Artist of the Year, making him the first Cape Verdean musician to achieve this honor. He has also been presented as a featured artist at the World Music Expo (WOMEX), in Seville, Spain.
His latest album, Lonji, is doing really well and he is slated to perform in several countries around the world. You can learn more about this talented musician through his myspace page and his web site.