Angelique Kidjo to Headline Carnegie Hall in Tribute of Miriam Makeba, 11/5
Angélique Kidjo is set to headline Carnegie Hall on November 5 in a tribute to "Mama Africa," the great South African singer and political activist Miriam Makeba-whom Kidjo cites as her own role model and career-long inspiration.
In the preface to her autobiography Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music, out now on HarperCollins, Desmond Tutu writes, "Angélique was herself inspired by Miriam Makeba, Mother Africa, and she in her turn is now an inspiration to others with her message that, yes, the sky is the limit, and she urges them to reach for the stars." For this special concert-which is presented as the closing event of Carnegie Hall's four-week festival, UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa, dedicated to the legacy of Nelson Mandela-Kidjo will be joined on stage by Makeba's original backing singers, Zamokuhle "Zamo" Mbutho, Faith Kekana, and Stella Khumalo, as well as other to-be-announced special guests.
Tickets go on sale August 25 here.
Makeba was herself a Grammy-winning performer, widely recognized as the first African artist to popularize African music around the globe. She became known in the U.S. for her hit song "Pata Pata," as well as for collaborations with such artists as Harry Belafonte and Paul Simon. An outspoken political activist, she campaigned against South African apartheid (for which she was exiled), delivering historic speeches and testimonies before the United Nations General Assembly.
Kidjo was a child when she first heard Makeba sing, and she was irrevocably changed by the experience. "When I first heard her sing...I was absolutely stunned," she says. "She was African, she was a woman and she was a star. I wanted to be just like her." In 1989 the two sang together for the first time. She says of the experience, "When I saw Miriam come in, even surrounded by her entourage of musicians, she had an amazing presence-a mix of a gentle girl and a fierce warrior. When she saw I was nervous, she walked over to me, took my hand, and said, 'Don't worry. Everything will be fine.' I had never even had the chance to see one of her concerts, but now here she was, right in front of me. She thanked me for being there and her spirit was so warm and generous, like a mother."
Kidjo has spent 2014 touring the world in support of her critically acclaimed new album, Eve, out now on 429 Records, and her autobiography, Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music, out now on HarperCollins. Eve debuted at #1 on Billboard's World Music chart, as well on the World Music charts on iTunes and Amazon in both the U.S. and Canada. The standard edition may be purchased HERE and an exclusive iTunes bonus edition may be purchased HERE.
Eve, named after Kidjo's mother, is a joyous musical ode to the pride, beauty and strength of African women and their worldwide socio-cultural influence. "I've spoken for many years about the beauty of African women, and I don't need to talk anymore about it because on this recording I am letting the voices of the women show their beauty to the world," Kidjo says "Eve is all about showcasing the positivity they bring to their villages, cities, cultures and the world."
The album has been widely praised in the press. The New York Times wrote, "Village traditions, cosmopolitan transformations, female solidarity, African pride and perpetual energy have been constants in Ms. Kidjo's recording career." According to NPR, "The power of Kidjo's unflappable voice, the range of her emotional expression, the stellar, genre-bending musicians who back her and the infectious, activist energy that courses through her songs all transcend any native tongue."
The recording is anchored by guitarists Dominic James and Lionel Loueke, drummer Steve Jordan, bass great Christian McBride and Senegalese percussionist Magatte Sow and features an array of both new and well-known guest musicians including Dr. John, Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend), The Kronos Quartet and the Orchestra Philharmonique du Luxembourg. In addition, remarkable singers and womens' choirs from several African villages in Benin and Kenya sing in a wide array of native Beninese languages including Fon, Yoruba, Goun and Mina.
Kidjo's accolades span a 20-year discography and thousands of concerts around the world. TIME Magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva" and London's Daily Telegraph named her "the undisputed Queen of African Music." Kidjo's 2008 recording Djin Djin won a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album and her last studio recording Oyo was nominated in the same category. She has enjoyed a long history of notable collaborations with greats from the jazz and pop worlds, including Carlos Santana, Bono, John Legend, Josh Groban, Peter Gabriel, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove and Alicia Keys. In an expansive career marked as much by extraordinary musical achievement as passionate advocacy and philanthropy for her African homeland, Kidjo has found many ways to celebrate the rich, enlightening truth about the continent's women beyond the media spotlight.