Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
Most divas receive that honorific courtesy of their flamboyant vocal pyrotechnics, but Cesaria Evora earned the title “the Barefoot Diva” because of her graceful and restrained vocals and affinity for the disenfranchised. On her self-titled 1995 release, Evora, a Cape Verdean morna singer, softly intones the somber poetic ballads of her homeland, a former Portuguese colony off the coast of Senegal. Sung in Kriolu, a Portuguese/West African hybrid, morna has reportedly been in existence for 150 years. Evora’s contemporary take on it seamlessly combines Portuguese fado and Brazilian balladry with the stylings of Edith Piaf and Billie Holiday, and is supported by the melancholy strains of piano, accordion, and the ukulelelike cavaquinho. Opener Madeleine Peyroux, from Brooklyn by way of Athens, Ga., spent her teenage years singing Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith tunes on the streets of Paris. On Dreamland, she expertly imitates her idols, backed by top-notch N.Y.C. musicmakers such as James Carter, Marcus Printup, Cyrus Chestnut, Marc Ribot, and Vernon Reid, but unlike Evora, fails to display her own vision. At 8 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $19.50-22.50. (202) 994-6800. (Steve Kiviat)