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Sentimental - 2000
Nha Homenagem - 2012



Totinho is the nickname of Antonio Domingo Gomes Fernandes, the saxophonist who played with Cesaria Évora for the last thirteen years of her career and the leading sax player on the Capeverdian music scene. With the Barefoot Diva, Totinho shares a “rags-to-riches” life story, where the passion for music offered a road to self-affirmation and improvement against the odds.

Born in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, to a single mother, Totinho did not receive much of a formal musical education and had to leave school at 14 to help support his four sisters, working as a construction worker and carpenter. Like many musicians from the Cape Verde islands, who are largely self-taught in a country were music is part of the national DNA, he began to play as a child with whatever he could find, staging regular jam sessions (“tocatinas”) with a drum set made of discarded tin cans. When one of his musical playmates had to leave the country to emigrate, he sent back a flute that became Totinho’s first wind instrument, offering him a new channel to explore his passion. At 16, Totinho began to study saxophone at the school of Praia’s Municipal band with Manuel Silva (“Manuel Clarinete”), his most important teacher and musical influence Soon he was invited to play with local musicians, first by Zeca de Nha Reinalda and then, in 1986 by the newly formed group Abel Djassi. In 1990 he joined the Tubarões, founded by the late songwriter, singer and composer, Ildo Lobo.

In 1997 José da Silva, Cesaria Evora’s producer and patron of the recording label Lusafrica, invited him to join Cesaria’s band, where he remained until her death in 2011. As the singer’s main saxophone player, he performed internationally in all major music venues on the four continents playing in an average of fifty concerts per year, and becoming a familiar and dynamic figure on the stage in her shows. He recorded on all of Cesaria’s last six albums, starting from Café Atlantico (1999) to Nha Sentimento (2009). In 2002 Lusafrica produced his first solo instrumental album, Sentimental.

Totinho has also recorded with other renown Cape Verdian artists, such as Ildo Lobo, Fantcha, Teófilo Chantre, Tó Alves, Lura and recently the emerging Neusa. He has performed with almost any singer on the Capeverdian scene, from Mayra Andrade to Tito Paris, Bana, Tcheka, Mirri Lobo, Nancy Viera, the Angolan Bonga, etc.

After Cesaria’s death in 2011, Totinho begun a solo career with the independently produced album Nha Homenagem (2012), produced by Djim Job and Kalu Monteiro in the United States and distributed in Cape Verde by Harmonia.

Totinho’s repertoire embraces the most important genres of Capeverdian music. On the soprano sax he plays “coladeiras,” contagious, feel-good tunes with a fast beat traditionally performed and danced on festive occasions. On the tenor sax he plays “mornas,” the quintessential Capeverdian genre perfected by Cesaria: soulful, slow compositions that are musical commentaries on the feeling of “sodad” (nostalgia), the emotion that best defines the destiny of a country where emigration is still one of the most significant phenomena of its culture and society.

In the Fall of 2013 he had his first US tour, managed by CANA CV, performing in Providence, Boston, New Orleans, Orlando and New York.