Cabo Verde



After Horace Silver, Code di Dona, Cesaria Evora, Manuel Clarinete, Morgadinho, Dany Silva and Chico Serra KJF pays tribute to Humbertona.

Considered one of Cabo Verde’s best guitar soloists, his entire solo discography was produced between 1966 and 1971, while he was studying at Louvain University in Belgium.

Before this, beginning in 1964, he had, alongside the Mindelo-born Marques da Silva brothers, participated in the group Ritmos Cabo-Verdianos, the first band to use electrified instruments in Cabo Verde and which went to Portugal in 1966 to take part in a musical competition.

Instead of returning to Cabo Verde, Humbertona went on to Belgium, where he began studying agronomy before earning a bachelor’s degree in economics and management.

In this same year, in Rotterdam he recorded enough material in a single session for his next two albums, released by Casa Silva/Morabeza Records, a label owned by his cousin Djunga de Biluca: Lágrimas e dor, which came out in 1967, and Morna ca só dor, from 1969.
He went on to record another four LPs featuring his work as a guitar soloist and nearly all of whose album covers featured politically-geared texts. In the last of these, Dispidida, an unsigned text in Cabo Verdean Crioulo talks of hopes for a new era: “without shackles, without abject poverty, without forced emigration, without suffering. In this new era that will arise, all will sing and dance their mornas and coladeiras.”

Humbertona played on Angolan legend Bonga’s first two albums (Angola 72 and Angola 74), as well as on Mona linda and La violenta, by Luís Morais, and Mar di Furna, by Bana.

In 1982 Humbertona was named Cabo Verde’s ambassador to the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the EEC, and then to the United Nations, in New York where he remained until 1991.

After the PAICV’s defeat in that year’s legislative elections, he worked as a consultant for international agencies and opened a computer school.
In 2001, he was named CEO of Cabo Verde Telecom.

Since his time living in the Netherlands, Humbertona has been honorary consul of the Netherlands for Cabo Verde’s Leeward Islands.

Humbertona has never recorded any of his own compositions, although he has a number of works he himself does not consider “relevant” in his files, according to a 2004 interview.

After so many years spent without recording, in 2004 he expressed his view that he would never be technically able to perform better than he did in his last album "Sodade, Rapsódias de mornas e coladeiras", on which he was accompanied by Toy Ramos.
While still a teenager, Humbertona had as his mentor Malaquias Costa, who would have him compose mornas, after he stopped his solfeggio lessons with municipal band conductor José Alves dos Reis, with whom he had also studied piano. Indeed, music ran in his family – another well-known guitarist of the time, Pipita Bettencourt, was his uncle.

Little by little, with more experienced friends and by trying to reproduce what he heard on Brazilian records, the young Humberto developed his talent. One day, his father, who was not particularly enthusiastic about the idea of having a guitar-playing son, given the activity’s association in the popular mindset with partying and vagrancy, was congratulated by an acquaintance who had heard the boy playing – extremely well.

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