A Review of Sara Tavares’ Song, ‘Sumanai’: Feel Better with the Sounds of Portugal and Cape Verde


Your boss calls you into her office, tells you she “hates this part of the job” and lets you know you’ve been laid off. Don’t throttle her. Don’t have Grey Goose for dinner. Instead, listen to the song “Sumanai” by Sarah Tavares.

Listen to the song here

Tavares knows how to smooth your frantic brain waves into rolling ocean waves. A minute into the song and you’re on the beach, toes in the water, too relaxed to care about that #!?&!@ job.

Such is the power of Tavares’ lovely voice, whether she’s singing in Portuguese (she is a native of Portugal), Cape Verdean Creole (her parents immigrated to Portugal from the African nation) or stilted English.

Sumanai, which means…actually, I have no idea [Ximena addresses this in her comment from Sept. 3o]. I searched for over an hour to find lyrics or hints from album reviews; I looked at Portuguese- and Cape Verdean Creole-to-English web sites, and I got nothin’. [see Robb’s translation in his Oct. 1 comment]

No matter. For me, Sumanai is all about a feeling. “Xinti,” the name of the album on which Sumanai appears, means “to feel.”

Sumanai feels natural, with cheery Soukous-style guitar work (think Paul Simon’s “Rhythm of the Saints”) and light percussion creating a great atmosphere for conversation, long laughs and kisses. Visiting Tavares’ musical world, my worries are far, far away.

Listen to the song “Sumanai,” on the album, “Xinti” by Sara Tavares, released Aug. 11, 2009, Four Quarters. Websites: http://www.saratavares.com and http://www.myspace.com/saratavares. Tavares has a fan page on Facebook.

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9 responses to “A Review of Sara Tavares’ Song, ‘Sumanai’: Feel Better with the Sounds of Portugal and Cape Verde

  1. Love your posts! Looks as though I’m going to learn about a lot of new, great music. Thanks for the tips.

    Anne

  2. Hi!
    We attended last week Sara’s concert in Leipzig, there she explained that Sumanai means nothing, nothing at all! it was some noises she made into a word and then while registering the song, the name she actually wanted was taken so she “sumanaized” it! Reminded me of “kwan” that was Cuba Gooding’s motto in “Jerry Maguire”.
    We were very lucky to meet her after the show and she is as healthy, happy, vibrant, easy and luminous as her music!

  3. Wow, Ximena. Thanks for clearing that up! I never would have guessed. What a great experience to see Sara in concert and get to meet her. Thanks so much for sharing.

    – Eleven

  4. Found a site that has a close transcription of the lyrics, but not exact as heard on the Xinti album.

    http://vagalume.uol.com.br/sara-tavares/sumanai.html

    Quick tip: When searching for songs with Portuguese lyrics, use the Portuguese word for lyrics – letras.

  5. Thanks, Robb! Very cool. I couldn’t tell. Does the site have a translation into English?

  6. Here’s my loose translation of this beautiful song. I welcome corrections from real Portuguese speakers!

    Se quiser matar a sede
    Se quiser abrir as asas
    Se quiser plantar semente
    Se quiser embalar o coração

    If you want to quench thirst
    if you want to open your wings
    if you want to plant a seed
    if you want to speed up the heart

    Há dias em que o sol não sai à rua
    Há dias em que o sol não sai
    Há sede de beber a água viva
    Há sede de beber

    There are days when the sun does not come out to the street
    There are days when the sun does not come
    There is thirst to drink the water of life
    There is thirst to drink

    Água viva que me refresca e lava
    Tudo, tudo, tudo cá dentro

    Water of Life that refreshes and washes me all, all, all within

    Quero um pouco de água,
    e um pouco de céu,
    quero um pouco de terra,
    e um pouco de chão,
    e um tanto de música no meu coração.

    Quero um pouco de água,
    e um pouco de céu,
    quero um pouco de terra,
    e um pouco de chão,
    e um tanto de música no meu coração.

    I want some water,
    and a little bit of heaven,
    I want a little earth,
    and a bit of ground,
    and a little music in my heart.

    Sumanai ???

    Num mundo onde
    as palavras voam no vento,
    voa tu também
    Há que ouvir a voz que grita cá dentro.
    Grita

    In a world where words fly by
    You too must fly
    You must hear the voice screaming inside
    Scream!

    Água viva que me refresca e lava
    Tudo, tudo, tudo cá dentro

    Water of Life that refreshes and washes me all, all, all within

    Quero um pouco de água,
    Quero um pouco de céu,
    Quero um pouco de terra,
    Quero um pouco de chão,
    e um tanto de música no meu coração.

    I want a little water
    I want a little bit of heaven,
    I want a little earth,
    I want a bit of ground,
    and a little music in my heart.

    Dar me um pouco de água,
    Dar me um pouco de céu,
    Dar me um pouco de terra,
    e um pouco de chão,
    e um tanto de música no meu coração.

    Give me a little water
    Give me a little bit of heaven
    Give me a little earth
    and a little bit of ground
    and a little music in my heart

    Sumanai ???

  7. Awesome, Robb. Thanks so much for the translation. Nice work! I can appreciate the whole song now!

  8. By the way, when I was researching this review, I did find that in Japanese, “sumanai” means “sorry; remorseful; apologetic” (Denshi Jisho — Online Japanese Dictionary).

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