Tete Alhinho

One thing I miss about teaching is telling students about movies made before their time, obscure books by little known writers, or music never heard on Top 40 radio.

In that spirit, I want to tell Synthesis readers about Tete Alhinho and her album, Voz. It’s one of my Desert Island Discs—music I think would be indispensable if ever I were marooned somewhere. I put Tete Alhinho with Miles Davis, the McGarrigle Sisters, the Rolling Stones, or Edith Piaf in my pantheon of musical masters, and I put Voz on the list of albums I wouldn’t want to be without, a rare record in which every track is a keeper. Tete Alhinho lives in Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa. She sings in a Portuguese dialect called Crioulo, but her soul requires no translation.

I have a fondness for female vocalists, and I’ve spent time trying to figure out why that is so. I’ve traced it back to when I was a boy, with my mother doing dishes and singing as the evening settled in. She didn’t do it often, but when she did, it spread peace on a household that was often troubled by worries about money, or the problems such worries create between married couples.

Now, when I find myself in times of trouble, I take refuge in the sound of a woman singing, and nowhere is that solace more likely to be found than when Voz is playing on my iPod.


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