@ the Barbican Centre
16 May 2010
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Angélique Kidjo was born in Cotonou, Benin,
July 14 1960. Her first performing experience was as a six year
old actor-dancer in her mother’s theatre troupe. From that
point on, music became her sole passion. As a teenager, Kidjo was
inspired to write songs by the sounds of Hendrix, Santana, Miriam
Makeba, Fela Kuti, James Brown, the Beatles and Aretha Franklin;
before her twentieth birthday she was one of Benin’s few professional
Difficulties with the political environment in her homeland, prompted
Kidjo to relocate to Paris. Thriving in the city’s African
music underground, she progressed from singer of Jasper van’
hof ‘s fusion band Pili Pili, to leader of her own band within
five years. Established as one of Paris’s top live acts, Kidjo
was quickly discovered by Chris Blackwell and signed on Mango. Today,
Angelique Kidjo is a bonafide global phenomenon whose performances
are always legendary events.
Kidjo’s style of music varies from afro-funk, reggae, samba,
salsa, gospel, jazz, Zairean rumba, souk and makossa which combined
together creates her soulful unique sound of music.
As well as being a Goodwill Ambassador with Uniceff since 2002,
Kidjo has worked with Oxfam for their Fair Trade Campaign and founded
the Batonga Foundation which gives girls a secondary school and
higher education so they can take the lead in changing Africa.