Best World Musician, Meet Angelique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo
Grammy Award winner for Best World Music Album.
Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, known as Angélique Kidjo born July 14, 1960, is a Beninese singer-songwriter, actress, and activist who is noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.
In 2007, Time magazine called her “Africa’s premier diva”.
Her musical influences include the Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and Latin styles; as well as her childhood idols Bella Bellow, James Brown, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Celia Cruz, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana.
Kidjo is fluent in five languages: Fon, French, Yorùbá, Gen (Mina), and English.
She sings in all of them, and she also has her own personal language, which includes words that serve as song titles such as “Batonga”. “Malaika” is a song sung in the Swahili language. Kidjo often uses Benin’s traditional Zilin vocal technique and vocalese.
Kidjo was born in Ouidah, Benin.
Her father is from the Fon people of Ouidah and her mother from the Yoruba people.
She grew up listening to Beninese traditional music, Fela Kuti, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, James Brown, Manu Dibango, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Osibisa, and Santana.
By the time she was six, Kidjo was performing with her mother’s theatre troupe, giving her an early appreciation for traditional music and dance.
She started singing in her school band, Les Sphinx, and found success as a teenager with her adaptation of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z”, which played on national radio. She recorded the album Pretty with the Cameroonian producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar.
It featured the songs “Ninive”, “Gbe Agossi” and a tribute to the singer Bella Bellow, one of her role models. The success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa.
Continuing political conflicts in Benin prevented her from being an independent artist in her own country and led her to relocate to Paris in 1983.
In 2009, Angélique Kidjo released a version of “Redemption Song” on the compilation album Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration.
Kidjo is one of the contributors of the MOMA (Museum Of Modern Art of New York) project called “Design and Violence”
Kidjo married French musician and producer Jean Hébrail in 1987.
Their daughter Naima was born 1993 in France.