Angelique Kidjo

A quick easy post this morning to bring my musical thread to the local here and now. We watched an Austin City Limits this weekend featuring Angelique Kidjo, a singer from Benin fluent in several languages including one of her own devising.  We saw her live a few years back after hearing her collaboration with Christian McBride, a brilliant jazz bass player.  Several things stand out from that concert.  It is an accepted tradition in her native land for fathers to sell their daughters as brides; the more talented and beautiful she is, the larger the price received. Ms. Kidjo said her father had been offered a lot of money for her when she was still a girl and he had refused, saying his children were not for sale.  It is important to remember that women and children are still considered chattel by some in many parts of the world.  She eventually emigrated to France where she obtained further training and experience in a variety of genres.  She sings a very hot French cabaret style when she wants in addition to her more African styles.  And she can dance. I have previously here quoted her saying that joy is possibility, a great truth across disciplines.

She continues to treasure her village tradition of singing and music as a communal activity so that she engages the audience throughout every concert and ends by bringing as many as will fit on stage to dance and sing along with her. And she reminds us that we are all African, that our genetic heritage originates there.  I love it.


Angelique Kidjo photographed by J. Vines

Watching her on TV I remembered watching her live and thinking, Some are born to sing and then there are some sent here to sing.  She is one of those, like Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton or Tom Jones and others.  Some artists, some performers bring us art as a force of nature, and I consider myself oh so very fortunate to have seen some of these in my lifetime.  Thank you, Ms. Kidjo.

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