Lúcio Matias de Sousa Mendes, better known by his artistic name, Mario Lucio, was born in Tarrafal, on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde, on October 21, 1964. It was there that he finished his elementary school studies. His father died when he was 12 years old, and at 15 he became an orphan, together with his seven brothers and sisters, when his mother passed away. When he was 12, he was adopted as a pupil of the Armed Forces, and went to live as a boarder in the barracks located in the former Tarrafal Concentration Camp, under the guardianship of the Military. He carried out his secondary school studies in Tarrafal. He obtained a State scholarship upon entering high school in Praia. During his academic career he stood out as a brilliant student, cultural activist and musician. In 1984 he obtained a scholarship from the Cuban government to study Law at the University of Havana, from which he graduated in 1990.
He returned to Cape Verde and practiced as an independent lawyer.
He was a Deputy in the Cape Verdean parliament from 1996 to 2001.
He served as Adviser to the Minister of Culture (1992) and was recently named Cultural Ambassador of Cape Verde.
Music. Mário Lúcio Sousa is founder and leader of the musical group Simentera, which marked a turning point back towards acoustic music in Cape Verde and claimed continental African culture as an element of Cape Verdean cultural identity. His conceptions earned him an invitation from the Cape Verdean government to serve as Adviser to the Commissioner for Expo/92 and author of Cape Verde's musical project for the 92 Seville Expo and the 98 Lisbon Expo.
He is a multi-instrumentalist and arranger of various albums by Cape Verdean solo artists. He is founder and director of the Quintal da Música Cultural Association, whose private cultural center works for the valorization of traditional music and children's access to learning and the promotion of their talents.
As a composer, he is a member of SACEM (Societé française des Droits d'auteur), with compositions recorded by Cesária Évora and other Cape Verdean artists. He is the permanent composer of the company Raiz di Polon, the only contemporary dance formation in the archipelago. He composed the soundtrack for the theater play "Adão e as Sete Pretas de Fuligem," which he also authored on request for Porto European Culture Capital and which was staged by João Branco. He is the founder of Fesquintal de Jazz, the Cape Verde International Jazz Festival. He has performed concerts in the United States, Brazil, France, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Austria, Senegal, Mauritania, Portugal, Switzerland, Slovenia, Greece, Spain, Luxemburg, Belgium, Italy, Romania and England, among other places.
Together with the group Simentera, he recently recorded in France the CD Tr'adictional, his musical project on miscegenation, in which Cameroon's Manu Dibango, Senegal's Touré Kunda, Brazil's Paulinho Da Viola and Portugal's Maria João and Mário Laginha participated.
He is a student of traditional musical forms, among them the vocal music of the Rabelados religious community of the island of Santiago.
Literature. He is the author of the following works: Nascimento de Um Mundo (poetry, 1990); Sob os Signos da Luz (poetry, 1992); Para Nunca Mais Falarmos de Amor (poetry, 1999); Os Trinta Dias do Homem mais Pobre do Mundo (fiction, 2000 - winner of the 1st edition of the Portuguese Language Bibliographical Fund award); Adão e As Sete Pretas de Fuligem (theater, 2001).
Painting: Mário Lúcio Sousa belongs to the movement of the new generation of Cape Verdean painters. He has participated in various exhibits in Cape Verde and abroad