Amebo9ja: Artist of the Month –Angélique Kidjo
Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, widely known by her stage name Angélique Kidjo is our Amebo9ja Artist of the Month for January. This week on January 26, the Beninese singer and actor picked up her fourth Grammy award at the 62nd Grammys 2020.
She was crowned the winner of the 2020 Grammy Award category for ‘Best World Music Album‘. The category was fiercely contested by other premium African musicians Altin Gün, Bokanté & Metropole Orkest Conducted By Jules Buckley, Nathalie Joachim With Spektral Quartet and our very own African Giant – Burna Boy.
As a compatriot, my bet was on Burna Boy to bring home the Grammys to the fatherland. After all bets and hope Angélique Kidjo came out triumphant over Burna Boy and the other nominees.
Our artiste of the month Kidjo has been active since 1982 – 38 years in and still standing as a multiple award-winning musician, only two years shy of 40 years. Her mother, who was Yoruba gave her an introduction into the world of music and art as a member of a local theatre troupe.
From making music as a teenager, Angélique Kidjo began her journey to becoming an African music legend. She learned and was inspired by other greats like Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix etc. Her core influences in music include Afrobeat, Congolese Rumba, Carribean Zouk, Jazz and other Latin sounds.
During her nearly 4 decades of musicianship, the African music legend has put out 13 solo albums excluding her effort for Euro-African jazz/rock band Pili Pili and as an indie artiste. She was one of those foremost African music talents that bagged recording deals with international music companies like Island Records, Columbia Records.
Her music bears the true Pan-African sound, with songs in Yoruba, Fon, Gen, French and English, which sings and speaks fluently. Some of her most popular songs include ‘Batonga’, ‘We We’, ‘Agolo’, ‘Adouma’, ‘Wombo Lombo’, ‘Afirika’ etc., to mention a few. Kidjo’s music commands a worldwide influence and relevance judging from her extensive music tours, performance at high profile global events, audience diversity, album sales and Billboard chart ranking.
Also as a Beninese, she has inspired several Nigerian artistes like Omawumi, Yemi Alade, Asa and Burna Boy who sampled her track ‘We We’ on his record ‘Anybody‘. Before ‘Anybody’ Burna also sampled her on his own version of ‘Wombolombo‘ while at Aristokrat Records.
The legendary Kidjo bagged her very first Grammy nomination in 1994 for her song ‘Agolo’ in the Best Music Video, Short Film category. Since then she got 8 more nominations from the Grammys and eventually winning the award 4 times. Her Grammy Award winning albums include ‘Djin Djin’ – 2007, ‘EVE’ – 2014, ‘SINGS’ with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg – 2015 and ‘Celia’ – 2019.
Her latest album ‘Celia’ was dedicated to her music idol Cuban singer Celia Cruz. She sampled her icon’s songs throughout the album, ‘reinvented with an Afrobeat feel’.
At this point, there is no denying how much impact Angélique Kidjo has had on some of our contemporary musicians and how they all look up to her for inspiration. It was even more heartwarming that she dedicated her recent win to a fellow competitor and mentee Burna Boy. The act also reinforces the belief that if Mr Damini Ogulu keeps up the quality of his work and music the Grammys and many more awards would be sitting on his shelf for memorabilia.