‘I’m going to start repetition in about five minutes,” Elida Almeida tells me, apologetically.
The singer from Cape Verde means “rehearsal” and again, apologises for her English not being perfect. I tell her it’s not either of our mother tongues and she laughs. While it’s clear that she’s keen to talk to me about her music, it’s even clearer that she doesn’t take rehearsal lightly.
This is a good thing. After all, she is one of the names people are excited about when it comes to the performers at the MTN Bushfire Festival, which takes place in Swaziland in May. She will share the stage with the likes of South Africa’s DJ Lag and Albert Frost as well as Nigeria’s Yemi Alade and Salif Keita from Mali.
“I am very excited about Bushfire. I really like the country. I know the festival is big and they are very famous in world music so I am very excited.”
Growing up, this 24-year-old, who put out her debut album, Ora doci, Ora Margos at the end of 2014, was raised around a lot of singing. “I grew up with my grandmother and my village was very simple. We were poor people but we were happy,” she says.
Before she even knew that she would work with the late Cesaria Evoria’s producer, Jose da Silva, she knew that Evoria was an ambassador of her home country to the world.
“I never met her,” she says, sounding apologetic again. “But I liked her songs. I liked how she was with people around us. I like how people around me used to talk about her and how she made them feel. She was different, singular and the best example.
"When I listen to her songs, I feel her voice and...how do you say...uh, I have this trouble with English. She was from the north of the country and I am from the south. But I like how she thought and she was important to me. She is important to all the Cape Verdean people. I feel very proud.”
Almeida’s second and latest album, Kebrada, was released in 2017. “Kebrada is the name of my village. The name is about all the good moments I felt there. With my grandmother. So I made this (album) as homage. In Kebrada, we have our customs that talk about our moments living there.”
The music video for her latest single, Bersu d’Oru, is a reflection of this. Almeida walks through her village while what looks like a carnival is taking place. Everyone is happy, dancing and singing: “Ooh le-le-leeeeeh.” Almeida thinks my version of that refrain is hilarious.
“That was nice,” she lies and then laughs. “This song is a very personal song because it’s the style that I grew up with. It’s traditional music from our country. The way that we did it was very simple but I like to make fusion.
"To do my thing to make it different. It’s influenced by the many countries I have travelled to. My producer is very modern and liked the fusion too. That’s why I think Bersu d’Oru is the way that it is. It’s because we like to be ourselves in the music.”
Catch Elida Almeda and others at the MTN Bushfire Festival in Swaziland from May 25 to 27. Tickets at www. bush-fire.com