I first came across Angelique Kidjo by chance in that I followed a link by Emmanuel Jal on Facebook who was singing the praises of the concert to open the 2010 World Cup Finals in South Africa.
What I experienced was a brilliant version of Curtis Mayfield’s great song “Move On Up” by Emmanuel’s friend Angelique.
I was impressed by the powerful way that she managed to blend the rhythms of her native Africa (she was born in Benin) with western jazz-rock. She has a rasping voice that perfectly fitted the music that she was singing and danced naturally with her backing singers and musicians in what was a wonderful celebration of Africa’s first soccer World Cup.
I thought that I would try and get to know more about this singer and looked her up on Wikipedia (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ang%C3%A9lique_Kidjo ). She was born in Benin in West Africa in 1960. She found that she was unable to fully function as a musician due to political upheaval in her country and left to start a new life in Paris in 1983.
Politics has always been a part of her life and in particular a concern for the many conflicts in her native continent of Africa. She has worked in support of such organisations as UNICEF, Oxfam and Amnesty International.
I was researching a post that I shall shortly be doing on the Vietnam War and wanted to use the iconic song “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones to include in the post,as it represented many of the feelings that artists such as Mick Jagger had at the horrors that were daily being transmitted into our homes about that particular conflict.
I found that Angelique had made her own version of the song (see below) with the wonderful African rhythms and the assistance of the lovely voice of Joss Stone. The ending is particularly powerful in that it brings the war theme from the 60’s up to date. The video was made to bring people’s attention to the situation in Darfur where many people had already died and where there is a strong possibility that many more could.
Watch the video and enjoy the music… you may want, as I did, to look up more of the music of this important artist.