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Carmen Souza

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CARMEN SOUZA + THEO PASCAL come together again after 6 acclaimed albums to release a new Cd called Epistola - "A special letter with sounds addressed to anyone open to receive them". 
Recorded between sessions in London, Lisbon and New York Epistola features Top UK Jazz drummer Shane Forbes (Empirical), New York musicians Matt King (Piano) & Craig Yaremko (Sax and Clarinet) and a special talented young drummer called Zoe Pascal. 
This new album includes 8 original songs from Souza+Pascal plus 2 signature covers of the songs : Moonlight Serenade (Glenn Miller) and Horace Silver´s Cape Verdean Blues also Mira Me Miguel a traditional regional song from the North East of Portugal.
For the last 12 years Carmen Souza and Theo Pascalhave developed their own solid and successful sound under the name ‘Carmen Souza’ led by Souza’s amazing vocal talent, and inquisitive and meaningful lyrics arranged over Pascal’s singular compositions. 
A delicious recipe of African/Cape Verde roots wrapped around Jazz named by DOWNBEAT as a "Recipe for Artistic success" and critically acclaimed by both Jazz and World Music Press and Audiences all over the world.
Reviewing Souza’s last CD/DVD (Live at Lagny Jazz festival), ’World Music Central’ highlighted "the stunning talent of one of the greatest jazz vocalists of our time". For this new album Carmen wanted a co-billing with Theo Pascal who was the first to discover and believe in her talent and has always been behind her as mentor, composer and producer...composing 50% of all the music released by the ’Carmen Souza project’.

In terms of influences we can mention : Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, Fela Kuti, Carlos Paredes, Hermeto Pascoal, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, etc...But what is important to SOUZA+PASCAL is for an artist to create their own voice and identity and you can only do that by first listening to yourself....They like to call their unique sound "Organic Jazz".
Epistola will be out in 2015 and Carmen and Theo will have new musicians in the band ready to start touring the World and wowing old and new audiences !

Carmen Souza & Théo Pascal : Jazzahead 2015


Traveling the World ’On tour’ with her latest acclaimed album "Kachupada" (2012), Carmen Souza releases now a live album recorded with her quartet on October 13 2013 at Lagny Jazz Festival in France. It was released on CD+DVD (Galileo / Harmonia Mundi) on January, 28th in France.

Carmen Souza vocal approach have been compared to singers like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt or Marie Daulne but her unique talent as a singer, songwriter and musician have allowed her to create her own idiosyncratic soundscape with the essential help of Theo Pas’cal, her longtime composer and producer.

The mix of West African rhythms, and beyond, with contemporary jazz is her personal recipe named by Downbeat Magazine has ‘Recipe for Artistic success’.

The fact is : Carmen Souza stands out has one of the most in demand Jazz and World singers in Europe, is recognized in the female Cape Verdean music scene for her pioneer work (recipient of a Cape Verdean Music Award for Best Female voice and Best Morna) and has won her own space both in the universe of Jazz and World Music.

This new release is only a sign that she will not be slowing down anytime soon and will continue to push her talent forward to surprise us with yet new possibilities...

Release Dates 2014 :
- 28 Jan(FR), Feb(DE,AT,CH)
- 27 Mar(USA,CA,SP,TR)
- Release dates TBC : Uk,Benelux,Scandinavia,It,Asia


Carmen Souza was born in Lisbon (1981) within a Christian family of Cape Verdeans. Very early she experienced the “Sodade” feeling of missing someone with the long absence of her father due to his work at sea. She grew up in a mixed language environment of Creole, the Cape Verde dialect her parents spoke at home, and Portuguese, always surrounded by the Cape Verdean way of life.

In her teens she sang professionally in a Lusophone Gospel Choir. Being a strongly spiritual person, Carmen Souza always saw music as her mission and felt privileged to have the opportunity to express herself through it, working hard every day to deserve that opportunity.

Musicians like Luis Morais, Theo Pas’cal, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Joe Zawinul, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret, Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, etc, are definitely those that truly inspire her evolution and search for a unique personal style.

Theo Pas’cal, her producer and mentor and one of the best bass players in Portugal, discovered her talent and introduced Carmen Souza to Jazz, Fusion and other contemporary sounds that markedly influenced her musical development.
In 2003, Carmen Souza began working with Theo on the compositions that would be included on her début album Ess ê nha Cabo Verde. Carmen Souza wanted to create a new sound, in her ancestor’s dialect Creole, that would mix traditional African and Cape Verde rhythms like Batuke, Morna, Cola djon, and others, with her jazz contemporary influences, in a totally intimate and acoustic vibe, different from the traditional festive environment of Cape Verdean sounds.
Ess ê nha Cabo Verde, was released two years later in 2005 to critical acclaim and led to her international breakthrough performance at the WOMAD at Reading Festival of the same year.
In “Verdade” her second album, which She co-produces and features on Wurlitzer and guitar, released in 2008, Carmen Souza signs an exciting and melodically vibrant repertoire in Creole that once again received amazing reviews from the International Press worldwide.

After those 2 critically acclaimed albums, Carmen Souza returned in 2010 with the impressive "Protegid" (Protected) that blends perfectly with elegance and sophistication the African and Cape Verdean traditional rhythms with Contemporary Jazz and Afro-Latin. Once again the two composers, Carmen Souza and Theo Pas’cal, presented an album that pushes even more the limits of what constitutes the Cape Verdean music, World Music and Jazz. Carmen Souza co-produces, plays guitar, Rhodes and signs 11 out of the 12 lyrics of the album.
In Protegid, Carmen Souza singular vocal approach and courageous musical choices have earned her pairing with singers like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Cleo Laine, Eartha Kitt, Marie Daulne. Her Unique talent as a singer, composer and musician sets her apart from the female crowded Cape Verdean scene and progressively she is consolidating her own space in the World music / Jazz music.

Protegid also received a nomination for the German Record Critic’s Award, and entered the WMCE. A new edition of Verdade, her second album released by Galileo, also entered the WMCE and this album was included in several lists of “Best World Music Album 2010”.

This new album is receiving outstanding reviews from all over the world and the press recognizes that something new is being developed in her music. World Music Central consider the album : “a landmark that will prompt you to embrace and at the same time rethink everything you know and love about the sounds of Cape Verde”, NPR says : “opens a window to another world entirely” and The Independent declares : “the poetic voice is as original as the musical one”.

Carmen Souza have been touring extensively around the World since 2005 and in 2010 she plays at big stages like The North Sea Jazz Festival(NL), London African Music Festival (UK) or the Leverkusener Jazztage Festival(DE). In Leverkusener, Carmen Souza, headlines a double bill with Mariza with an amazing performance later broadcasted by WDR/3SAT German TV.

Other concerts were also broadcasted around the world by major TV/Radio Channels like CBC (CA), RDP (PT), RADIO6 (NL), etc, and her uniqueness is recognized by Ethnomusicologists Gerhard Kubik and Fernando Arenas. A closer look into Carmen Souza groundbreaking work was included in a new book called “Beyond Independence : Globalization, Postcolonialism, and the Cultures of Lusophone Africa” by Fernando Arenas released by the University of Minnesota (USA).

“Outstanding & Expressive vocalist with a rather unique and mesmerizing style” is some of the words that International Press used to describe this singer/songwriter.
Carmen Souza sings in her native creole dialect with an intimacy, sensuality, and vivacity, characterised by a tremendous lightness of touch. Her music has a deceptive simplicity, a rare clarity, derived from a unique mix of influences from her Cape Verdean background to jazz and modern soul creating this beautifully vibrant, largely acoustic, accessible hybrid. World soul music for the 21st century.”
— David Sylvian —

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