World Music Institute, with The Town Hall, Presents ANGELIQUE KIDJO, 2/15

World Music Institute presents with The Town Hall the Beninese vocalist, songwriter, and social activist Angélique Kidjo on Saturday, February 15 at 8:00 p.m. at The Town Hall. Named "Africa's premier diva" by TIME magazine, Kidjo has cultivated an international following through her uplifting music, which seamlessly integrates her West African heritage with rhythms and textures from around the world.

A Goodwill Ambassador of UNICEF, Kidjo is a leading advocate for women's health and girl's education in Africa, and has been listed among "Africa's 50 most iconic figures" (BBC) and the "Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World" (The Guardian). Her newest album,EVE (Savoy Records/Universal), is named after her mother and dedicated to the women of Africa. In celebration of the album's release, Kidjo's World Music Institute performance will explore the urgent social messages and diverse musical styles so central to her artistry.

With lyrics in English, French, Fon, and Yorùbá, Angélique Kidjo lifts audiences to emotional heights with beautiful melodies and driving percussion. A powerful but contemplative presence, Kidjo possesses an ability to draw music out of the people and places, across the globe, that have influenced her most.


For the recording of EVE-her thirteenth album-Kidjo collaborated with artists from across musical and geographic borders. Among the myriad guests on this recording are the Kronos Quartet, Rostam Batmaglij of Vampire Weekend, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, guitarist Lionel Loueke, and Nigerian singer-songwriter ASA. Kidjo also traveled back to Benin to record singers and percussionists there, giving the foundation of EVE a distinctly West African sound. "The percussion of Benin is very specific, and very special," says Kidjo. "All of these songs have such a deep root of tradition that without the percussion from Benin, it would not be true."

2014 also marks the release of Angélique Kidjo's autobiography, entitled Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (HarperCollins). Beyond her incredible journey from escaping to France to becoming an internationally-renowned, Grammy Award-winning artist, Kidjo also details her involvement in broader social issues and offers ways in which readers can also get involved.


This marks the final performance in the World Music Institute's 2013-14 Around the World, Around the City series, following Christine Salem and Jorge Drexler this past fall. Offering a venue for some of the world music scene's most visionary voices, the series focuses on performers who use their musical and cultural traditions to move forward into the future with sensitivity and innovation.


Afro-funk, reggae, samba, salsa, gospel, jazz, Zairean rhumba, zouk, and makossa are combined through the music of soulful Benin-born, Paris-based vocalist Angélique Kidjo. Since the release of her self-produced debut solo album, Pretty, in 1988, Kidjo has been embraced by the international press.

The daughter of an actress, dancer, and theatrical producer, Kidjo was born in Quidah, a coastal city in the West African country of Benin. Inheriting her mother's love of performing, she made her stage debut with her mother's theatrical troupe. Inspired by the rock, pop, and soul music of Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Miriam Makeba, James Brown, and Aretha Franklin, she was singing professionally by her 20th birthday. Although Kidjo's album Pretty yielded a hit single, "Ninive," the oppressive political environment of Benin led her to relocate to Paris in 1980.

Although modern technology and electronics played an important role in the recording of her first four albums, Kidjo returned to her traditional roots with Fifa. Armed with eight-track tape recorders and microphones, Kidjo and a team of engineers traveled to Benin to record traditional musicians, singers, and dancers. Fifa featured more than 100 percussionists, flutists, singers and dancers from Benin. Kidjo's work since then has seen a return to her more progressive, futuristic approach; collaborations with artists from around the world have become fundamental part of her music.

Kidjo's songs have been featured on the soundtracks of such films as My New Favorite Season, Street Fighter, and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. She has recorded with artists including Santana, Dave Matthews, Roy Hargrove, John Legend, Dianne Reeves, and many more. 2014 sees the release of her newest recording, EVE (Savoy Records/Universal), as well as her autobiography, entitled Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (HarperCollins).

Tickets for all World Music Institute events are available for purchase online, by calling (212) 545-7536, or in person at the WMI Box Office at 101 Lafayette Street, #801.

Student and group discounts are available, as are VIP tickets for select events. Discounts are also available for WMI Friends with memberships starting at $70. WMI Friends enjoy priority seating throughout the season.

Related Articles View More Classical Music Stories

More Hot Stories For You