“Africa is on the rise, Africa is positive, Africa is joyful,” said 55-year old Angelique Kidjo when she received the Grammy for Best World Music Album on Monday, at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. This was Kidjo’s third Grammy and second consecutive win in that category. Last year, the Beninese-born singer took home the Grammy for Eve, her 2014 Album which paid tribute to African women.
Dressed in simple-styled African print and headgear, Kidjo, one of Africa’s most prominent musicians, danced her way onto the stage to accept her award amidst an applause. The New York-based singer dedicated her award to aspiring African musicians, saying, “I want to dedicate this Grammy to all the traditional musicians in Africa, in my country, to all the young generation.” Something she later reiterated in an interview with the BBC, “I have to continue to working…to open the way for many artists from Africa to come.”
The Album, ‘Sings’, which Kidjo described as an “artistic challenge”, is a collection of African songs with Western classical instrumentation in a collaboration with the 110-piece Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg. “The orchestra brings different textures to my life and music. Unlike in pop music, the orchestra doesn’t follow you, it leads and dares you to follow it. If you don’t do this successfully, the songs suffer and the communication is lost,” she said. But Africa’s premier diva is not one to shy away from a challenge, “I never want to get too comfortable with what I’m doing and I love my work too much to repeat myself.” According to Kidjo, music is a tool that could connect the world. “Let’s get together and be one with music and say no to hate and violence,” she said in her acceptance speech.
The iconic singer praised the Grammys for being increasingly unbiased and diverse. She told AFP that the “openness” of the Grammy was astounding in comparison with other award events. “They are showing musical diversity to the rest of the world,” she said.
Her album beat Malawi’s Zomba Prison Project, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil and sitarist Anoushka Shankar. Currently, Kidjo, plans another concert in the upcoming season at Carnegie Hall, New York. The singer who has enjoyed a long history of notable collaborations with artistes like John Legend, Alicia Keys, Bono, Josh Groban, amongst others, said she is open to more collaborations with artists of other genres. Recently, she worked with award winning Nigerian songstress, Omawunmi, in her latest single titled Play Na Play, an experience the younger artiste described as “refreshing and memorable.”
Some of Kidjo’s popular songs are Wombo Lombo, Agolo, We are one (soundtrack for Lion King 2), and We We.
Watch young kidjo do some amazing dance moves in her video for ‘We We’ way back in 1991: