The talented Portuguese singer-songwriter Sara Tavares has been making waves since her third release and North American debut, Balance, hit shelves in 2006. Born to Cape Verdean parents, Tavares' childhood was no picnic: both parents emigrated from Portugal to find work, leaving Tavares to be raised in Lisbon by a friend of the family. She turned to music to console herself, composing song-poems that she began setting to music. In 1993, when she was just 16 years old, she entered Portugal's prestigious Chuva de Estrelas songwriting contest -- and won. The experience set her on her path. She began singing backup for other artists and recorded two solo albums, the second of which, Mi Ma Bo, was produced by Congolese singer-songwriter Lokua Kanza. The album signaled the evolution of Tavares' musical direction as she began paying more attention to her African roots. Inspired by artists like Jorge Ben and Stevie Wonder, Tavares was determined to make music that wasn't exclusively African or Portuguese, but was both. Balance did just that, trafficking in the hybrid slang of Lisbon's streets and delicately referencing music from around the world.