Angélique Kidjo is a Beninese-born singer, songwriter, and activist. This year, she won her third Grammy award. In her speech, she dedicated her win to all aspiring artists in Africa.
Africa is on the rise
Her album Sings won the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. Sings collects Kidjo’s songs and merges them with European classical musical, provided by the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. When accepting her award, Kidjo said:
“I want to dedicate this Grammy to all the traditional musicians in Africa, in my country, to all the young generation.” She added – “Africa is on the rise, Africa is positive, Africa is joyful. Let’s get together and be one with music, and say no to hate and violence.”
She later spoke about how important she believes music is for peace:
“I work with everyone who believes that music is the tool of peace. For me, music is the only form of art that connects the entire world,” she said.
She also expressed how impressed she was with the Grammy’s diversity:
“What astounds me more and more is the openness of spirit by the Grammys compared with other events. They are showing musical diversity to the rest of the world. What is great at the Grammys is to have people who aren’t only into commercial things.”
An amazing career
Kidjo began performing when she was just six years old, she was part of her mother’s theater group. As a teenager, she sang in her school band and recorded the album Pretty. It was so successful that she toured West Africa. However, Benin was troubled by conflict. She moved to Paris to study at CIM Jazz School. She worked her way up from singing backup vocals to becoming the lead singer of Euro-African jazz/rock band Pili Pili, who she recorded three albums with. She was finally discovered and signed to Island Records. Her first album with Island Records – Logozo – reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. Her next recording, Ayé, earned Kidjo her first Grammy nomination for the single “Agolo.” After releasing four albums with Island Records, she moved on to label Columbia Records in New York. Her first Grammy win was in 2014. The album EVE, which is dedicated to African women, won Best World Music Album.
A well-respected artist
Kidjo is one of the biggest artists in Africa. She is also a big name internationally. Not only is this her third Grammy win, it is the second year in a row that she is recognized for recording the Best World Music Album. She has won countless awards in countries like France, South Africa, Canada, Italy, the UK, and her native Benin. She is well respected in the media as well. Time Magazine called her “Africa’s premier diva” and the Daily Telegraph said she was “the undisputed queen of African music.” BBC included her in their list of Africa’s 50 most iconic figures. She also figures on The Guardian’s list of Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes Afrique put her on the cover of their 2015 100 most influential women issue. She has used her fame for good. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has travelled with them to Benin, Senegal, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Syria, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Haiti. In addition, she supports many charities and foundations.