Elida Almeida performs at SXSW 2016. Photo by Nancy Flores

With a powerful stage presence that commanded the attention of the room, African songstress Elida Almeida strutted on the stage at the Russian House Wednesday evening and captivated world music lovers with her enchanting voice,  moving spirit and fun-loving nature.

At just 23 years old, Almeida already has an incredible depth and charisma as an artist that stretches beyond her years. Perhaps it’s because she wears her heart on her sleeve. Though danceable and uplifting, some of her songs in Portuguese reflect on melancholy moments from her childhood including the death of her father when she was just a girl and the conversation she had with her mother when she found out Almeida was pregnant. At 17, Almeida wrote her first song.

But Almeida also knows how to turn it up with Afro-Latin and folk rhythms. She tied a scarf around her hips for a booty-shaking session that had the crowd cheering. “It’s easy,” she said with a smile. When the crowd begged to differ, the room filled with laughter.

Keep your eyes on this rising artist from Cape Verde, an island off the west coast of Africa, who has turned her life’s struggles into a drive that pushes her forward.  “You have to believe in yourself,” she told the crowd.

Almeida’s performance was part of a Sounds from the World showcase, which featured other international artists such as Cabezas Flutantes of Brazil who present upbeat, pop experimental songs that showcase tropical soundscapes.

Don’t miss the chance to catch Almeida again at 10 p.m. Thursday at the Flamingo Cantina.