In Cape Verde, music and musicians are so highly revered that a portrait of the country’s most legendary singer, Cesaria Evora, graces the second highest-value bill in the island nation – 2,000 Cape Verdean escudos or 20 USD.
That spirit of music appreciation was on display at the country’s annual Atlantic Music Expo festival in April. About 120 industry insiders – from producers to festival directors and more – attend the festival each year in this city of 130,000 people.
On this island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Africa, professionals from Nigeria, Cape Verde, Portugal, Morocco, and other countries mostly in Africa and Europe, converged for the ninth annual edition of the festival from April 10-13.
Many of the performers are from West Africa and have come to Praia with hope that the expo might help take their musical careers to a next level and ensure they can make a living from their art in an increasingly digital landscape.
Local stars like Joceline Medina, also known as Josslyn, performed on one of three outdoor stages during the week. Nigerian blues musician Jessica Bongos played for the first time outside her home country. Slovakian band Varkocs had the crowd dancing to traditional acoustic Slavic instruments.
AME Director August Veiga says the global popularity of genres such as Afrobeats has brought more attention to music from the continent. “Now there is curiosity about what the African market can bring,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because now the business makers see that they can make money out of African artists. Now they are interested. I think it can open doors.”
Ultimately, a focus on African audiences by improving infrastructure and fostering partnerships across the continent would reduce costs but increase the number of events, he added. “We have a lot of festivals in Africa, but there is not a connection between them,” Veiga said.