Cabo Verdean
Brockton, Massachusetts

Cabo Verdean music, a blend of African and Portuguese influences, is a familiar sound in coastal New England. The region is home to large communities of Cabo Verdeans, who began immigrating to the area in the 19th century. Maria “Lutchinha” Neves Leite of Brockton, Massachusetts, arguably the finest Cabo Verdean singer to make her home in the United States, will delight audiences with the soulful sounds of this distinctive musical tradition.

The Republic of Cabo Verde is comprised of 10 islands that span an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The islands were uninhabited until the mid-15th century, when the Portuguese created a colony, establishing a major hub in the transatlantic slave trade. Enslaved Africans soon became a major segment of the population, and the mix of Portuguese and African cultures led to the development of a unique language, Crioulo, and several beautiful musical styles. 

With the decline of the transatlantic slave trade, the region’s economic prominence waned. Cabo Verdeans began arriving in the U.S. as crews on whaling ships and found work in New England, bringing with them their culture and music. Cabo Verdean traditional music includes morna (made famous by singer Cesaria Evora), which explores themes of love and mourning; and batuque, originally a women’s singing genre with a satirical bent. Cabo Verdeans also imported the coladeira, a musical and dance form that is variable and often satirical.

Maria Neves Leite was born on the island of Sao Vicente, Cabo Verde. She started singing at age seven and has performed worldwide for almost 40 years. Lutchinha’s first album, Castanhinha, bears the title of a morna that her father wrote for her mother, a song she has never stopped performing. Lutchinha went on to become one of the winners at the Todo Mundo Canta singing competition, representing Sao Vicente in Praia. Engagements in the Soviet Union and in Portugal soon followed, launching a highly successful career before she joined her parents in immigrating to the U.S.

The family settled in Brockton, Massachusetts, where Lutchinha continued to perform at Cabo Verdean weddings and community events, while also raising a family and working as a home visitor counseling young parents. More recently, she has released two albums and has organized local Carnival celebrations, where she passes on the songs and dances of Cabo Verde to the next generation, reflecting, “We want kids who were born here to have that culture in them.” 

Website and Social media: 

Lutchinha Instagram

Lutchinha YouTube