Wednesday, March 31, 2010
ANGELIQUE KIJO FROM SINGER TO UNICEF GOOD WILL AMBASSADOR.
Angélique Kidjo (born on July 14, 1960) is a Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter and activist, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.
Kidjo was born in Cotonou, 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, Miriam Makeba, James Brown, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, 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.
 Moving to Paris
While working various day jobs to pay for her tuition, Angélique studied music at the CIM, a reputable Jazz school in Paris where she met and married musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has composed most of her music. She started out as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she became the frontsinger of the known Euro-African jazz/rock band Jasper van't Hof's Pili Pili. Three Pili Pili studio albums followed: Jakko (1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by Marlon Klein) and Hotel Babo (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had become one of the most popular live performers in Paris and recorded a solo album called Parakou for the Open Jazz Label.
 International career
She was then discovered in Paris by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell who signed her in 1991. She recorded four albums for Island until Chris Blackwell's departure from the label. In 2000 she was signed in New York by Columbia Records for which she recorded two albums.
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, Aretha Franklin, Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba and Carlos Santana. She has made her own renditions of George Gershwin's "Summertime", Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child", and The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter", and has collaborated with the likes of Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Price, Branford Marsalis, Robbie Nevil, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock and Cassandra Wilson. Kidjo's hits include the songs "Agolo", "We We", "Adouma", "Wombo Lombo", "Afirika", "Batonga", and her version of "Malaika".
Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yorùbá, and English and sings in all four languages; she also has her own personal language which includes words that serve as song titles such as "Batonga". Malaika is a song sung in Swahili language. She often utilizes Benin's traditional Zilin vocal technique and jazz vocalese.