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Angelique Kidjo

United States

A Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer and songwriter, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. She is married to musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has a daug

More by user: lremy
Created: 26th Mar 2008
Modified: 26th Mar 2008
Professional Information
Professional Areas:
World music
Musician / Songwriter / Artist
Working primarily in:
United States

Description of Work:

The Early Years

By the time Kidjo was six, she was already performing with her mother's theatre troupe; this experience giving her an early appreciation for music and dance. Continuing political conflicts in Benin led Kidjo to relocate to Paris around 1982, where she started out as a backup singer in local bands, before establishing her own band. By 1985, she became the frontsinger of the known Euro-African jazz/rock band Jasper van't Hof's Pili Pili resulting in three studio albums: Jakko (1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by Marlon Klein) and Hotel Babo (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had worked to become one of the most popular live performers in Paris.

Musical Influences

She attributes her musical influences to 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. As a creative artists, continually pushing the boundaries of her art, 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, and Cassandra Wilson. Kidjo's hits include the songs "Agolo", "Ayé", and "Batonga".

Kidjo Recent Update

Angelique Kidjo released an album titled Djin Djin on May 1st, 2007. Many guests appear on the album including Josh Groban, Carlos Santana, Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel, Amadou and Mariam, Ziggy Marley, and Branford Marsalis. The title, Djin Djin, refers to the sound of a bell in Africa that greets each new day. The album is produced by Tony Visconti, who is known for producing David Bowie, Morrissey, and T. Rex, among others.

In 2007, she covered John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" for the CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.

In 2007, she toured North America extensively with Josh Groban's "Awake" show.

On 7 July, 2007, Kidjo performed at the South African leg of Live Earth.

Annie Lennox has joined forces with Angelique Kidjo and 22 other female artists to raise the awareness of the transmission of HIV to unborn children in Africa.

Bono of the Irish rock band U2 has described Kidjo as the galvanizing voice of sub-Saharan Africa and considers her the vanguard of the crusade for Darfur.

Dance/club hits

Several of her singles have reached the Billboard Dance/Club Play chart.

In 1996, Junior Vasquez remixes of her song "Wombo Lombo" brought the song to #16.

In 2002, King Britt remixes of her single "Tumba" helped the song reach #26. There have been other Kidjo singles to be remixed by notable producers, though the others didn't chart.

"Agolo" was remixed by Mark Kinchen,

"Shango" was remixed by Junior Vasquez,

"Conga Habanera" was remixed by Jez Colin.

"Salala" from Djin Djin was remixed in 2007 by Junior Vasquez and Radioactive Sandwich.


  • Pretty (African release only)

  • Parakou (1990)

  • Logozo (1991)

  • Ayé (1994)

  • Fifa (1996)

  • Oremi (1998)

  • Keep On Moving: The Best Of Angelique Kidjo (2001)

  • Black Ivory Soul (2002)

  • Oyaya! (2004)

  • Djin Djin (2007)

Kidjo has also recorded many songs for various movies


Octave RFI (1992)
Prix Afrique en Creation (1992)
Danish Music Awards: Best Female Singer (1995)
Kora Music Awards: Best African Female artist (1997)
Mobo Awards (2002)
Antonio Carlos Jobim Award (2007)
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding World Music Album (2008)
Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album (2008)

Grammy nominations include the Best Music Video of 1995 and Best World Music Album in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Angélique Kidjo is the 4th laureate of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award (2007). Created in 2004 on the 25th anniversary of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, each year the award is given to an artist distinguished in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz and cultural crossover is widely recognized

Biographical Information
Angelique Kidjo
(At a Glance)
Date of Birth: Jul/14/1960
Interests: Languages, humanitarianism through her founding of the Batonga Foundation, a UNICEF Ambassador since 2002
  City: New York City
Website: http://www.kid...
Place of Origin: Benin
Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yoruba, 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.
She has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002.

Kidjo founded The Batonga Foundation which gives girls a secondary school and higher education so they can take the lead in changing Africa. The foundation is doing this by granting scholarships, building secondary schools, increasing enrollment, improving teaching standards, providing school supplies, supporting mentor programs, exploring alternative education models and advocating for community awareness of the value of education for girls.

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