For a “barefoot diva,” as she was known for performing barefoot, Cesária was shy onstage, sometimes withholding. She would often stare in a way that made the audience feel they did not exist. Then she would make jokes in creole, and chuckle with her musicians and the Cape Verdeans in the audience—inside jokes. Her stage presence was small and fierce, hard to read. She seemed to be minding her own business up there, only worried about singing the songs: we wanted to stay back home but we were broke and had to immigrate; we blame the drought; we blame the ocean; we act a fool with our lovers; politicians act a fool with us; we survive; before we die we will go back.
Janine de Novais remembers Cesária Évora.