In a country where the women seem to have international stardom sewn up -- Cesaria Evora, Lura and now Mayra Andrade among them -- Tcheka's making a pretty strong case for the men. The Cape Verdean singer-songwriter takes a different tack from the morna traditionally associated with the islands. Instead, he plays percussive acoustic guitar and takes inspiration (in part) from batuku, the native Cape Verdean singing that was banned by the Portuguese and survived only in the fields where women worked. Born Manuel Lopes Andrade in Santiago, Tcheka grew up performing music with his father; he struck out on his own at the age of 15. Fame didn't come immediately, and the singer went to work in the capital, Praia, as a cameraman for a national TV station. He managed to record his 2003 debut, Argui, while he was there, and the positive response helped pave the way for his much-lauded 2005 release, Nu Monda, which won him Artist of the Year from the Radio France International Music of the World Awards. In 2007 he released Lonji, which was produced by Brazilian star Lenine and broke the mold he'd made with Nu Monda.