"Charisma" is a word that demands a new definition when applied to Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora. Although she makes a somewhat offbeat appearance as the "Barefoot Diva" -- a highly marketable description of her simple preference for performing without shoes -- she otherwise communicates the amiable, uncomplicated warmth of a favorite great aunt.
So, how to explain the unrestrained enthusiasm of her audience Friday at the Orpheum Theatre? Greeted with the sort of hooting and shouting ovation usually accorded a rock god, cheered enthusiastically on the few occasions when she slightly moved her shoulders in rhythm, Evora herself seemed mystified by the ebullience of the response she was receiving.
That's not to diminish the warmth of her manner, the seductiveness of her songs or the appeal of her singing. Evora has been an international star since the early '90s, when she introduced the world to the music of her native Cape Verde -- the bittersweet mornas, with their entrancing blend of nostalgic melody and subtle, body-moving rhythms. Since then, she has added more rhythmic coladeira numbers. Her extensive program -- drawing from a catalog of nearly a dozen albums -- included such sing-along items as "Africa Nossa" (from the current CD, "Rogamar") and the classic "Sodade" (from "Miss Perfumado").