WUFT Morning Edition host, Glenn Richards, spoke with five-time Grammy Award-winning musician Angélique Kidjo. NPR has called her “Africa’s greatest living diva.” Kidjo shared her insights on life and music, including her experiences growing up in Benin, living in Paris and the United States, and her upcoming appearance at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville on Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Angélique Kidjo transcends simple labels and easy classifications. She is more than just a singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. Kidjo is one of the premiere artists in international music today, appearing all over the world and collaborating with a wide range of artists across multiple genres including: Peter Gabriel, Philip Glass, Sting, Buddy Guy, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, David Byrne, Sampa the Great, Carlos Santana, Branford Marsalis, Josh Groban, the Kronos Quartet and many more.
Angélique Kidjo is also the 2023 laureate of the Polar Music Prize, described as the most prestigious music award in the world. It will be presented to Kidjo in Stockholm on May 23 alongside fellow recipients Arvo Pärt and Chris Blackwell, who signed her to his Island Records label in 1991.
Kidjo, who has been active in the music industry for over 30 years, is known for her eclectic sound that blends traditional African rhythms with modern Western influences. Her latest Grammy-winning album, Mother Nature, was released in June 2021 and features collaborations with artists such as Burna Boy, Mr Eazi, and Salif Keita. With Kidjo’s fifth Grammy Award, she becomes the artist with most wins in the Global Music Category ever.
During their conversation, Kidjo spoke about her upbringing in Benin where she was exposed to a wide range of musical styles from an early age. She credited her parents, who were both avid music lovers, with nurturing her passion for music and encouraging her to pursue a career in the arts.
Kidjo also discussed her first exposure to the United States when she was in Miami recording her third album, LOGOZO, the inspiration behind her track-by-track reimagining of the Talking Heads’ ‘80s classic, Remain In Light, her dislike of recording studios, and the importance of staying true to oneself and following one’s own path.
In addition to her music, Kidjo is a passionate advocate for social justice and has worked with organizations such as UNICEF and Oxfam and in 2006, she founded the Batonga Foundation with the goal to promote education and empower girls and women in Africa.
Angélique Kidjo offers a fascinating glimpse into the life and music of one of Africa’s most celebrated musicians. Her passion for music and social justice, combined with her diverse range of experiences and influences, make her a truly unique and inspiring figure in the world of music.
Angélique Kidjo will be at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Gainesville on Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 PM.
Find out more at: performingarts.ufl.edu/events and Kidjo.com.