Hometown: Ouidah, Benin
Albums: Pretty, Parakou, Logozo, Ayé, Fifa, Oremi, Keep On Moving: The Best Of Angelique Kidjo, Black Ivory Soul, Oyaya!, Djin Djin, Õÿö
Awards: Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album, NAACP Image Award for Outstanding World Music Album (2008)
Other: Angelique has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the Berklee College.
Born in the West African country of Benin, Angelique Kidjo began her musical training young. She listened to her country’s traditional music, but would more than liberally sprinkle in some of the biggest names in rock, pop and R&B of the late-‘60s-to-early’70s: James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana. As a teen, Kidjo found success as a singer, one that allowed her to travel all around West Africa. However, political issues forced her to move to Paris, where she found her calling as a club singer (as well as her musician-husband), and in due time she was such a hot property that she was signed by Island Records.
Throughout her recording career, Kidjo has remained true to her roots, capturing the sound of her childhood through her songs. Whether it was the soulful melodies on her first albums, or the attempts to incorporate that sound into western pop music, Kidjo’s tunes had become synonymous with top-notch “world music,” which she continued to get lauded for all over the world. That kind of notice will eventually catch the eye of other massive names in the music business. Her award-winning albums have included the likes of Branford Marsalis, Bono, Dave Matthews and one of her childhood idols, Carlos Santana.
Kidjo’s world fame has also made her one of the most sought-after personalities to champion causes. She’s sung alongside Peter Gabriel, Youssou N’Dour, Alicia Keyes and Josh Groban among many others to support causes like East Timor and Darfur.