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2006 Hall of Fame Inductees

The following are the 2006 Hall of Fame Inductees. Click on each name to read about them. "Top of Page" will bring you back to this index.

Aliz Braz

Aliz BrazAliz was born on June 18, 1924 In Providence, Rhode Island to Amalia DaGraca and Antonio Sebastiao Braz. With siblings Anna Spencer, Albert and Joseph Braz, and Margaret Valles, she grew up on Woodward Avenue in East Providence. A dedicated student, she graduated with honors from East Providence High School in 1942 and received a certificate in stenography from Johnson & Wales College in 1947 and a certificate in shorthand from Bryant College in 1960. Immediately after high school, she worked in Washington, D.C. for the Department of Inter-American Affairs as a stenographer. During World War II she worked at Quonset Point, and later for two law firms. For forty-five years, she worked for the State of Rhode Island beginning as a Senior Clerk and retiring in 1993 as an Engineering Technician III for the Department of Transportation.

Throughout her lifetime, Aliz served her community and honored her Cape Verdean heritage by serving on several committees in leadership positions. As a young woman, she worked with a committed group of women as their translator, secretary, and legal clerk I the incorporation of the Cape Verdean Women’s American Progressive Club in 1944, Six years later they were given a plot of land and eventually became the Cape Verdean Progressive Center.

Among the professional organizations Aliz was involved in were the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 400,where she served as Corresponding Secretary; Department of Transportation Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Board, Secretary; Consultant to Portuguese Program Coordinator, National Materials Development Center in Bedford New Hampshire.

Aliz was the President and devoted member of the Cape Verdean Progressive Center, Women’s Guild; President of the East Providence Traditional Girls’ Club; Secretary, Committee Chair and Board of Governors of the Cape Verdean Progressive Center; Secretary and Member of the Board of Directors of the Cape Verdean American Federation and a member of the Cape Verdean Sub-committee of the Rhode Island Heritage Commission.

Aliz’s passion for music was evident in all that she did. Seldom was her home without the sound of her piano and the sounds of her beloved Cape Verde Islands. In 1950, she organized a Creole band, the Junior Verdeans, and performed with the group around several cities in Southern New England.

Traveling by ship she was among the first American born Cape Verdeans to visit the islands in 1951. It was during this six-month visit that she began to gather information in her quest to write her family history. Although she had no children of her own, she had 47 godchildren.

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Captain Antone Coelho

Antone CoelhoBorn in 1842 on the island of Brava, Cape Verde, Antone Coelho immigrated to the United States on a sailing ship. His family settled in Rhode Island.

In 1892 Captain Coelho purchased a vessel, the Nellie May, a 64 ton fishing schooner, with the intention of making regular trips between Cape Verde and the United States, carrying passengers, freight and mail. He was the first Cape Verdean American to obtain a vessel to engage in the Packet Trade. In 1892 he sailed from Providence for Brava with fifty passengers and returned in 1893 with 117 passengers and crew. A subsequent voyage ran into trouble resulting in the Nellie May being beached by Coelho’s captain and declared salvage. Antone Coelho appealed to the State Department in Washington, D.C. and wrote to two presidents, Cleveland and McKinley, to secure the return of his ship. This correspondence lasted for 23 years, until 1915, with no results.

When he returned to Rhode Island, Antone Coelho devoted much of his time to his fellow Cape Verdeans, helping them to locate housing and employment. He served as an interpreter during naturalization procedures and other official functions. He had political connections with Rhode Island Governor Norman S. Case and worked with a few lawyers. He was praised for his good deeds.

In 1939, a reporter from the Providence Journal visited Captain Coelho at his home on 31 Sheldon St. in Providence’s Fox Point. One of the packet ships was about to embark on a trip for Cape Verde and the reporter came to interview Captain Coelho. With great eloquence she described how he looked that day, sitting in his favorite chair by the kitchen window, with a breeze from the water coming in on him, decked out in his favorite white captain’s cap, one that he practically slept in, smoking his pipe. Coelho told the reporter that he wanted to sail on this ship to Cape Verde, “Once I get back to sea, I will be young again.” Captain Antone Coelho was 96 years old at this time: he died the following year.

As part of the “Coming to Rhode Island” display in the Providence Children’s Museum, a story gallery with a replica of the Nellie May tells Antone’s story and is being shared with children of all backgrounds and their families.

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Honorable Peter J. Coelho

Peter CoelhoPeter Coelho was born in 1921 in East Providence to Cape Verdean immigrants. He lived his entire life in that city, residing at the same address for 76 years. He enlisted in the United States Army and was a veteran of the Army Air Forces of WWII, working in an administrative capacity for the Tuskegee Army Air Force. After the service Peter became a painting contractor from 1946-1965 during which time he also became a special agent for the New York Life Insurance Company until retiring in 1968.

Peter joined with a group of Cape Verdean women who had land in East Providence which had been donated to them for the purpose of erecting a building. Peter was in possession of a liquor license, which had previously been held by the Royal Cape Verdean Brotherhood. The Brotherhood had been established so the Cape Verdean men would have a place of their own to meet and socialize. It was in the difficult process of obtaining this license that Peter Coelho realized the need for Cape Verdean representation in the political arena. When the organization folded, Peter assumed its debt to hold the rights to the liquor license. The women appointed him Building Committee Chairman. In 1951 they erected the building and by 1953 the membership had grown to 340. It was named the Cape Verdean Progressive Center and Peter was elected the first male president. In 1974 Peter served as Chairman of the first Cape Verdean American Federation Convention.

Peter became the first Cape Verdean to be elected to the General Assembly of Rhode Island and served as State Representative of District 84, that later became District 83, from 1967 – 1978. He was the Secretary of the Ward 2 Democratic City Committee. From 1968 – 1972 he was Executive Director of the Home for Hope Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Providence. He was a residential housing appraiser for HUD from 1984 – 1992. He started his own real estate company PETCO, as a licensed real estate broker.

Peter served as board member to many organizations throughout his lifetime such as Rhode Island Blue Cross/ Blue Shield, The Urban League of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Board of Realtors. He was a member of the East Providence Council, Knights of Columbus.

Peter and his wife Julia had 5 daughters, 11 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.

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Dr. Charles Nicholas Fortes

Charles FortesCharles Nicholas Fortes was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts the oldest of five children of Nicholas Charles and Teolinda Fortes. His parents were born in Cape Verde. Charlie was a Merchant Seaman and a member of the National Maritime Union until a serious heart condition curtailed his career at sea. He was married to Rose Margaret Oliveira Fortes and the father of seven children. Returning to Providence in the sixties, Charlie became an employee of Progress for Providence, a state anti-poverty agency, as a neighborhood representative in the west end of Providence. He often applied the lessons he had learned as a union man to organize and advocate for the people.

In 1969 Charlie left Progress for Providence and established and served as the Executive Director of the Providence Corporation, the largest private anti-poverty agency in the USA at the time, which employed Cape Verdeans and other minorities. The corporation operated the largest Volunteers in Service to America Programs (VISTA) in the nation aimed at eliminating poverty and discrimination. Charles was instrumental in establishing educational, health and social organizations that are now an integral part of Rhode Island society. He proudly displayed his slogan “from problem to promise” in his office.

A civil-rights man, Charles Fortes always advocated for co-operation between minority and poor people. A history buff, he collected facts about Cape Verdeans in history which he passed on with a smile on his face. He proudly acknowledged and promoted his Cape Verdean heritage. He was an early supporter of Cape Verdean nationalism and independence from Portugal.

Among his many accomplishments on a social level, Charles Fortes helped to establish and served on the Board of Directors of the Providence Ambulatory Health Centers, the Urban Education Center, the Opportunies Industrialization Center, LEAP program for science students at Brown University and the Rhode Island Hometown Plan. He promoted the fair housing bill for Rhode Island, rights and fair treatment of welfare recipients, educational opportunities for all students and prison reform. Charlie would buy one stock in a utility company so he could attend the stockholders meeting and advocate for lower income people.

Charles Fortes, along with three others, founded the Cape Verdean American Federation to, among other things, acknowledge and strengthen Cape Verdean identity. He was the first Chairman of the incorporated non-profit organization. Although established in Rhode Island, the federation spread to have chapters in several states. Charles Fortes found funding for the first annual Cape Verdean American Convention which was held in Providence in February 1974. Open and free to all this first convention attracted more than 600 people, almost entirely Cape Verdean, of diverse backgrounds, immigrants and American born, young and old, from throughout the United States who came to proclaim and celebrate their Cape Verdean identity.

Charles Fortes was a member of the group who successfully petitioned the State of Rhode Island to recognize Cape Verdeans as a separate ethnic group and to form our own subcommittee of the Rhode Island Bicentennial Commission. He was appointed to serve on the first Cape Verdean Heritage Subcommittee in 1975. He considered this a chance of a lifetime to stamp our heritage on Rhode Island. This committee is still in existence as part of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.

Charles Fortes was a member of the original group of Cape Verdeans who advocated for the Schooner Ernestina to be given to the United States.

Rhode Island College bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy Degree for Charles Fortes on June 9, 1973. The James P. Adams Library at Rhode Island College houses the Charles Nicholas Fortes Room which is used for meetings, conferences and special events. At its entrance is a framed copy of his honorary degree citation and inside is a plaque with a 1983 dedication honoring him as a community leader and founder of the Urban Educational Center.

The Charles Fortes Magnet Academy, a public school in the west end of Providence, is named for Dr. Charles Fortes and is dedicated to his memory.

Dr. Charles Nicholas Fortes was a humble man who only owned one suit. He preferred to be known simply as Charlie. He was a visionary who wrote to the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations in 1972 to help fund a cultural center for Cape Verdeans in Rhode Island. He was a dedicated man, never selfish with his time, who was a mentor to many, and a friend to all. In the Posthumous Testimonial honoring the late Dr. Charles N. Fortes held at the Venus De Milo on October 9, 1977, it was said “Charles Fortes was a Gentleman, Husband, Father, Christian and Friend to Young and Old, Black and White.”

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Anna Cabral Spencer

Anna SpencerAnna Cabral Spencer’s home in North Providence, a home she built with her own wits and hands with the help of friends and a book, “How to Build My Dream Home”, was not just a home for herself and her family of sons. It became a haven for many. The family has lost track of how many people from the Cape Verde Islands stayed with them. It seemed that there was always someone living in the house with them. A relative even came from Holland and stayed until she graduated from college.

Some stayed until they found employment and a place to live. Sometimes she sponsored entire families. Anna would make countless trips to the Cape Verdean Consulate in Boston, fill out papers for visa renewals, accompany people to attorneys’ offices and to court. She was a volunteer interpreter for the International Institute. There were three weddings in that house and as a result, Anna has over twenty god-children.

In 1998 she was recognized by the Mayor of the City of Providence when she received a Citizen Citation for “Contributions as a Guiding Light in the Dynamic Cape Verdean Communities”. That same year she received a Po D’Terra Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhode Island Cape Verdean Cultural Exchange & Education Project.

Anna became the first woman of color to work as a salesperson in a Boston department store, Gilchrist Department Store. She attended school in Boston for nutrition, and later taught knitting and crochet at the same school. Her education as a nutritionist led her to the work she did in Rhode Island until retirement - cooking for children at Head Start and at Tri Town Day Care.

The daughter of Alfredo Vieira and Antonia Ramos Vieira of Sao Vicente, Anna heeded the example of her hardworking, generous parents. She sends barrels to Cape Verde every year and paid taxes on land she had never seen so her relatives, whom she had never met, would not lose their land.

Anna Vieira Cabral Spencer has truly embraced life. Her commitment to her people and their traditions is outstanding. She shares unselfishly and leads by the power of her unparalleled perseverance.

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Tavares Brothers

Tavares Brothers

Capitalizing on their close harmony and the inherited musical talent from the elders in their family, the group Tavares became known for their infectious Disco Rhythm and Blues sound. They have been performing since 1955. The group which includes the Tavares Brothers, Feliciano "Butch", Antone "Chubby", Perry Lee "Tiny", Ralph "T", Arthur "Pooch" and Earl "Victor", was formed in 1964. After going through several name changes, the group settled on the name “Tavares” in 1969 during a trip to Italy.

Growing up the group lived in New Bedford and Fox Point in Providence. They came from humble beginnings and went on to become major acclaimed singers without the luxury of formal voice lessons.

In 1973 they signed with Capital Records. Their debut album Check It Out contained two top ten R & B hits, the first of many such hit recordings. The Tavares discography includes more than 25 titles. They recorded several Gold and Platinum records. Some of their individual hits include, “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel”, “More Than a Woman”, “That’s the Sound That Lonely Makes” and “Don’t Take Away the Music”.

The group became full fledged dance music superstars. They toured constantly throughout the United States and in Europe and made regular appearances on major U. S. television shows such as Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. The BeeGees wrote “More Than a Woman” for Tavares to record, and the group performed the song for the soundtrack to the movie Saturday Night Fever. The album quickly became the biggest selling album in history at that time. They received a Grammy for their work on the famous soundtrack. Their music has also been featured in commercials and the movies “Charlie’s Angels” and “Down to Earth.”

Tavares has continued to record throughout the years, including a number of compilation albums, some recorded live. The brothers’ talent and love of music has been passed on to their children and grandchildren who will be the next generations in this musical Cape Verdean family.

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Feliciano Vierra Tavares

Feliciano TavaresFeliciano Vierra Tavares, known as “Flash” came from a family of 10 siblings, 8 girls and 2 boys. His father was born in Santiago and his mother on Sao Nicolau in the Cape Verde Islands. The family lived in the midst of the Cape Verdean community in Fox Point. Music was an important part of their lives

He started playing on a homemade ukulele made from a cigar box and four elastics. He got his idea to make his ukulele from Jaffa’s second hand store on South Main Street in Providence. He received his first guitar at the age of seven. It had only two strings and was donated to him by the Salvation Army, while he was collecting firewood for his parents to burn at home.

Flash was a self-taught musician by listening to the radio and anything he could get his hands on. He began playing with a “jump group” led by Walter Williams and the Hep-cats. After he left Walter’s band, he started playing with Cape Verdean musicians.

The first Cape Verdean band he played in was led by a stevedore named Tony. The band changed leaders several times eventually coming to Flash, who was doing all the lead vocals at the time, often accompanied by his sister Vickie. Feliciano Vierra Tavares took “Flash Vierra” as a stage name, dropping the Tavares. This group toured throughout New England and New York in the 1940’s.

Flash moved to New Bedford and became a guitar player for the Jimmy Barros band, which led to a trip to California, where they visited two cities, Sacramento and San Francisco. At this time the song “Sacramente” was composed. The song was written and performed by all of the members of the Jimmy Barros group, inspired by the reception they received at the home of a fellow Cape Verdean named Lilly. In California they appeared at dance halls and VFW’s throughout the Bay area.

Returning from California Flash returned to Fox Point where he rejoined the Creole Sextet. He and his sister Vickie continued to be featured singers with various local Cape Verdean bands. Their close harmony and phrasing made them well known and popular in American Cape Verdean music.

Flash has performed for many dances, celebrations and events in the Cape Verdean community throughout the years, often contributing his talent for good causes.

In 1995 Flash Tavares performed with the Cape Verdean American Dance Band in the Cape Verdean Connection at the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife. In 1996, he participated in the So Sabi Festival sponsored by the Boston Center for the Arts. He is featured on the CD, “So Sabi: Cape Verdean Music from New England”.

Flash is the father of the members of the Rhythm and Blues group Tavares.

He now resides in Hyannis, Massachusetts in semi-retirement with his wife Grace and still turns out to entertain at the age of 86.

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Vickie Tavares Vieira

Vickie VieiraVickie Tavares Vieira was born in Providence, Rhode Island into a family of 10 siblings, 8 girls and 2 boys. Her parents were immigrants from Cape Verde, her father from Santiago and her mother from Sao Nicolau. Vickie grew up in the Fox Point area of the city in a musical home. She started singing at an early age and soon became known in the Cape Verdean community for her beautiful voice and mastery of Cape Verdean music.

Even as a young woman, she was willing and eager to sing at charity dances given by the women of the community, always properly chaperoned. At the age of nineteen, she began singing in local bands with her brother Flash, because that was the only way she was allowed out of the house to perform. She was only allowed to sit in with the bands in which her brother played.

One of the first bands she sang in was led by “Cut” Cardoza, a fellow Fox Pointer. This band went through several leaders and finally when her brother Flash took the lead, she became a permanent member of the band. Flash and Vickie shared in the lead vocals often doing duets, singing both traditional Cape Verdean music and American jazz.

Vickie never had any formal vocal training. She learned and was influenced by what she heard on the radio and early television. She was a huge follower of the female jazz greats such as Lena Horne, Della Reese, Eartha Kitt and Sarah Vaughn. Vickie and Flash developed a style of interpreting Cape Verdean music with a jazz styling which made their music distinctly American Cape Verdean.

When her brother Flash went to San Francisco, California, Vickie continued playing with Cape Verdean bands. Throughout the fifties, she played up and down the East Coast, from New York to Cape Cod. Vickie was recognized as the premier female American Cape Verdean singer at this time.

Vickie joined the Skyliners, a big band. She also made a recording with Phil Barboza’s Orchestra and later sang with the Duke Oliver Band. After successfully touring with these groups, she returned to her roots and her Rhode Island and Massachusetts fans. Flash had returned from California and the popular duo continued singing together. She most recently has sung with the Creole Sextet.

Vickie Vieira has performed for Cape Verdeans and other audiences throughout the New England states. Her sunny personality and fine vocalization have always made her an audience favorite.

In 1995, Vickie participated in the Festival of American Folklike as part of the Cape Verdean Connection’s Cape Verdean American Dance Band. She has been featured in the So Sabi Festivals and artist in residence programs sponsored by the Boston Center for the Arts. She sings on the CD “So Sabi: Cape Verdean Music from New England”, which was recorded at the festival. She has sung at the Cape Verdean Conference sponsored by The Bi-lingual Center at Brown University. She has participated in a program at the Rhode Island Children’s Museum. In earlier Cape Verdean Independence Day celebrations at India Point Park, Vickie sang the National Anthem of the United States. She appears in the film, “Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican”. When Aristedes Pereira, the first President of the Republic of Cape Verde, made his first visit to the United States, Vickie serenaded him and later gave a memorable performance at his meeting with the community.

In addition to her musical talents, Vickie Vieira has a talent for friendship. She maintains lasting friendships with many people. There is a deep spiritual component to her life, evidenced by her strong faith. She is deeply committed to her religion and especially devoted to her family.

Vickie Vieira makes her home in East Providence, Rhode Island, sharing her household with her beloved sister Maria. Presently she is recovering from a mild stroke. Despite this setback, Vickie promised to return to the stage in the near future.

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