Angelique Kidjo’s new album, Oyo, is a collection of covers of songs that inspired her growing up in Benin: Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, James Brown and Miriam Makeba, Plus Beninese Traditional Music and Songs from Hollywood and Bollywood Films.
On Oyo, Angelique Kidjo collaborates with rock star Bono of U2, one of Africa’s most ardent supporters. Upon hearing music from Oyo, Bono very much wanted to contribute, and so he joined her and John Legend on a version of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up.”
The focus on Oyo is the music that shaped Kidjo’s artistic formation. The album includes “Lakutshn Llanga,” a lullaby made famous by Kidjo’s hero, Miriam Makeba; Yoruban interpretations of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” and Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti;” a collaboration with Diane Reeves on “Monfe Ran E,” an homage to the Aretha Franklin hit, “Baby I Love You;” and a take on James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.”
Recorded and mixed by Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, The Roots, Erykah Badu) and produced by Kidjo and longtime collaborator Jean Hebrail, Oyo features a band of highly accomplished musicians, including another Benin-born, New York-based artist, the guitarist Lionel Loueke, as well as Christian McBride on upright bass, Kendrick Scott on drums and Thiokho Diagne on percussion. The trumpeter Roy Hargove makes a memorable appearance on “Samba Pa Ti.”
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