By Charles Mgbolu
This week, Beninese-French singer,-songwriter and actress Angélique Kidjo is celebrating 40 years of impactful music with a star-studded concert on Friday at the Royal Albert Hall, London, to celebrate her legendary career.
Hailed as one of the most inspiring women of our time, the five-time Grammy-winning musician is the epitome of diverse musical influences laced with a powerful mezzo-singing voice that rings powerfully in all of her performances.
Kidjo was born into a family of performing artists. Her father was a musician and her mother worked as a choreographer and theatre director.
On September 15, 2021, Time included her in their list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Angelique Kidjo has proven she is a bridge builder, connecting her music with a new generation of music artists across Africa, such as Burna Boy, Davido, and Yemi Alade, to mention a few. Her latest show in London will be headlined by Ghanaian Afropop, dancehall, and reggae musician Stoneboy.
She says the event is an amalgamation of all her iconic music put together, firmly rooted in her Beninese origins in Western Africa.
‘’Only two weeks to go to London! I cannot wait to celebrate the 40 years of my career with everyone in London,’’ she wrote gleefully on X.
Kidjo is fluent in five languages: Fon, French, Yorùbá, Gen (Mina), and English. She sings in all of them, and she also has her own personal language, which includes words that serve as song titles, such as "Batonga". "Malaika" is a song sung in the Swahili language.
Kidjo often uses Benin's traditional Zilin vocal technique and vocalese.
The late South African legendary performer Miriam Makeba remains her idol. Kidjo has repeatedly said in interviews that she decided to follow Makeba's example by using music as a way of spreading her message.
She now runs an organisation, the Batonga Foundation, whose aim is to improve the lives of young women across Africa.
As the concert that celebrates her 40 years of music draws near, her fans have shared congratulatory messages on social media.
‘’So proud of our aunt Zogbin. You have brought joy to the world with your music, you have lifted young ones as you journeyed. We continue to wish you well in all you do,’’ wrote Victor Nwaneri on Youtube.
The event sees other talented performers on stage with Kidjo, including Senegalese singer and songwriter Youssou N'Dour, Ibrahim Maalouf, and Laura Mvula, among others.