Thousands of mourning fans, from ordinary people to national leaders, gathered Tuesday for the funeral of Cape Verde's legendary singer Cesaria Evora. beloved "barefoot diva" died Saturday at age 70 on her native island of Sao Vicente and her body was taken from the hospital Tuesday to her family's home in Mindelo.


Her fans, many in tears and singing her songs, lined the streets to see her casket pass, accompanied by 30 honour guards from the Cape Verdian army.

It will be followed by a funeral mass and burial in the city cemetery around 1700 GMT.


The Cape Verde government on Saturday declared a 48-hour period of mourning for the singer, who Fonseca acclaimed as "a major cultural reference" for Cape Verde, an archipelago in the Atlantic off the west coast of Africa.

The singer, who won international acclaim for her sultry voice and melancholy ballads, retired three months ago due to ill health, having undergone open heart surgery in May last year.


"I infinitely regret having to stop because of illness, I would have wanted to give more pleasure to those who have followed me for so long," she said in an interview with Le Monde when she retired.


Evora has sung the blues-influenced "saudade" of her native Cape Verde since a young age, but came to world fame late in life in 1992 after three decades performing in the bars of Mindelo.


Her third album Miss Perfumado, which came out that year, was a worldwide hit selling more than 300,000 copies to date. - ANP/AFP

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