Often the best musicians come at their craft so open and so talented that almost anything is possible, and with Angelique Kidjo, almost anything truly is.
Angelique is a three-time Grammy Award winner, has Honorary Doctorate degrees from Yale and the Berklee College of Music, has been listed among the 50 most iconic figures in Africa by the BBC, and has received the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International.
Born in the African country of Benin in 1960, Angelique grew up listing to the inspiring music of Huge Masekela, James Brown, Miriam Makeba, Jimmy Hendrix, and Carlos Santana. When you consider her unique musical gift for transforming interpretation, it is no wonder she went on to collaborate with artists as diverse as The Dave Matthews Band, Alicia Keys, Ziggy Marley, Peter Gabriel, Bono, and Josh Groban.
That’s what makes Angelique’s work so compellingly diverse! She’s found a way to connect genres as different as Afro-pop and George Gershwin’s hits. Then she moves smoothly through the Rolling Stones, jazz greats, gospel, and Latin styles. Today we will only hit the mountain tops, but we’ll point you to her rendition of a Bob Marley’s classic, a fascinating version of French composer Maurice Ravel’s 1928 Bolero, an inspiring version of the famous We Are One song from The Lion King, and then we will visit a couple of her innovative music videos with more Afro-pop influences.
Sounds strange and wonderful? It is.
Here’s her latest video. (This article was updated on June 6, 2018.) video. A marvelous take on the rhythms of the famous 1970’s band Talking Heads. See what you think!
Want to learn a little more about what you’ve just heard? Here’s an NPR interview to explain the complexity and wonderful connections in that song.
Here’s why Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva.” Checkout Angelique’s power to move people from all walks of life!
Inspiring, isn’t it!? There’s a sense of connection there that you can feel, even through the video. Imagine being in an auditorium with energy like that, whether the music is your cup of tea or not. It’s hard to denie the energy!
It’s not about our particular musical tastes.
Here at EWC we are working hard to demonstrate that there are talented people in the world who are leading us all forward by striking at something at our core, something shared by most, something to celebrate.
I won’t run on about Angelique’s work any more. Let’s let it speak for itself.
Here’s Angelique Kidjo collaborating with jazz great Branford Marsalis on Ravel’s Bolero:
Next up, a music video for her Afro-pop hit song, Wombo Lombo, featuring her love of dance, which started at the age of six when she began traveling with her mother’s theater troupe.
Now, her humanitarian interests come through. Something inspiring from The Lion King:
Angelique’s rendition of a classic Bob Marley’s song with the Kuumba Choir Singers:
And I couldn’t resist pointing you to another music video that pushes at the creative edges of music and visual art:
And lastly, one more piece from that concert I caught on Austin City Limits:
Whew! I’m tired just watching Angelique throw herself into her craft. This all makes me think her journey has just begun.
Thank you Ms. Kidjo for bringing the world together a little. We can use a lot more of this!
Join us here daily for a dose of possibility!
Meanwhile, stay open, curious and optimistic!
~ Dr. Lynda
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- “Angelique Kidjo on Austin City Limits “Afrika”” YouTube. AustinCityLimitsTV, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2EJ5_HOiDA>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo Featuring Branford Marsalis – “Lonlon (Ravel’s Bolero)”” YouTube. Angelique Kidjo, 17 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eWJtZlrSGI>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo – “Wombo Lombo”” YouTube. Angelique Kidjo, 01 July 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyMDHccQhzo>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo – “We Are One”” YouTube. Angelique Kidjo, 09 Aug. 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=insF0_YTb40>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo Covers Bob Marley’s Redemption Song at Her PBS Special.” YouTube. Angelique Kidjo, 23 June 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZncWCgN-zms>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo – “Batonga”” YouTube. Angelique Kidjo, 01 July 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-bWhuIFZ3U>. ↩
- “Angelique Kidjo on Austin City Limits “Pata Pata”” YouTube. AustinCityLimitsTV, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbRgTaiOh_U>. ↩