Falling for a new artist’s sound can feel like falling in love. This is how we’re feeling about the music from singers Lizz Wright, Goapele, Kem, Smokie Norful, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, and Maria de Barros. These six musical talents are eclectic souls who are breaking through to mainstream audiences by daring to be different. Here’s why we’re so smitten with Maria de Barros’s sound.
Who She Is: A proud Cape Verdean whose zest for life is evident on her first disc, Nha Mundo (“My World”).
What She Sounds Like: Morna queen Cesaria Evora meets salsa legend Celia Cruz.
Why We Like Her: De Barros’s disc is a sensuous blend of morna (a Cape Verdean–based blues) and coladeria (upbeat sambalike rhythms). Singing mostly in kriolu, a mixture of West African languages and Portuguese, De Barros loves that her music crosses language barriers. “So many people say, ‘I didn’t understand a thing you said but I loved the music,’ ” De Barros says. “And that makes me feel so good.”
Five Artists She Can’t Live Without: Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Cesaria Evora (“I wouldn’t be here if not for her”), Willie Chirino and Sting.