New York City’s iconic venue, Carnegie Hall, has announced the world music (including American folk music) concerts for the upcoming 2019-2020 season.
Fall 2019 Highlights: October—December
Celebrated Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo will map the voyage of African music and culture around the world throughout her Perspectives series. The series will begin with a program on October 19 in Zankel Hall that features Benin International Musical, a fast-rising ensemble that fuses rock, hip-hop and electronica with traditional music of Benin.
Her series continues with Diaspora Songs, on December 6 observing the effect that African music has had on the international music scene, led by musical director Terence Blanchard featuring The E-Collective and special guests to be announced.
On December 13, Ms. Kidjo will be honored by longtime friend and guitarist Lionel Loueke and his trio in a concert that both celebrates and reinvents many of her beloved songs.
Ms. Kidjo’s Perspectives concludes on March 14, 2020 with Daughter of Independence, a special celebration of her 60th birthday that also honors the anniversary of independence of her native Benin and other West African nations. She will be joined by a cast of stellar guests.
The Milk Carton Kids will present their harmonized vocals reminiscent of the Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel to Zankel Hall on November 1 as part of Rosanne Cash’s annual series, American Byways. The folk duo will play songs from their fourth album, All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do, which earned them a wave of critical praise and a 2018 Grammy nomination.
Rosanne Cash and Ry Cooder will come together for a rare joint performance of songs from Johnny Cash’s beloved songbook on November 2. After immediately selling out four dates at the SFJAZZ Center and presenting two additional performances at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House in 2018, the duo brings this highly anticipated concert to New York City for the first time.
Winter / Spring 2020 Highlights: January—May
Two broadly popular groups from Quebec, Le Vent du Nord & De Temps Antan, will come together on January 24 in Zankel Hall in a high-spirited celebration of traditional and contemporary dance tunes and ballads of French-Canadian culture.
The second installment of Rosanne Cash’s American Byways series on April 24 in Zankel Hall features the unadulterated Mississippi Hill Country Blues of multi-instrumentalist Cedric Burnside (grandson of legendary bluesman R. L. Burnside) and guitarist-vocalist Molly Tuttle (daughter of bluegrass star Jack Tuttle). They each celebrate their incredible musical lineage in performances seeped in the southern American roots tradition.
All performances take place in Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage unless otherwise noted. For ticket information call 212-247-7800 or go to carnegiehall.org.
Angelique Kidjo – Celia (Verve/Universal Music France, 2019)
As a young girl, Angelique Kidjo was inspired by Cuban singer and salsa star Celia Cruz. Angelique’s new album, Celia , recreates some of Celia’s most popular songs. It is also a celebration of Afro-Latin music as it includes salsa, Afro-Cuban and Afro-Peruvian material.
For this recording, Angelique sings in Spanish and chose some of the most Yoruban-influenced songs by Celia Cruz. Angelique’s band features well known musicians from Benin, the United States, the UK and Nigeria, including Nigerian Afrobeat trailblazer Tony Allen on drums, American musician Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, British jazz outfit Sons of Kemet, and acclaimed Beninese act Gangbé Brass Band.
Celia is a colorful and beautifully-delivered tribute to one
of the essential vocalists from the 20th century.
African music star Angelique Kidjo is set to release her new album Celia (Verve/Universal Music France) on April 19, 2019. The new recording reimagines and celebrates “The Queen of Salsa,” Cuban artist Celia Cruz. Guests on the album include Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Tony Allen on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Sons Of Kemet, and Gangbé Brass Band.
Angelique Kidjo is currently touring the United States, presenting songs from her 2018 album Remain In Light, which reconceptualized the music of influential rock band Talking Heads.
She will be at the Savannah Music Festival on April 6th, 2019 and at Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina on April 8th. Other tour dates include:
Ulster Performing Arts Center
World Music Central has compiled the list of best world music albums of 2018 selected by our editors and contributors as well as our partners at the Transglobal World Music Chart and our colleagues at the European World Music Chart.
République Amazone (Amazon Republic) brings together some of West Africa’s best female singers with highly percussive electronic music.
While the women provide the lead and background vocals, Irish producer Liam Farrell, also known as Doctor L, contributes most of the instruments in the form of electronic bass and beats. The focus is on powerful, deep bass sounds, developing a hybrid sound that combines traditional world music vocals and club-style dance beats.
Les Amazones d’Afrique (the African amazons) include Angélique Kidjo, Kandia Kouyaté, Mamani Keita, Mariam Doumbia, Mariam Koné, Massan Coulibaly, Mouneissa Tandina, Nneka, Pamela Badjogo and Rokia Koné.
Additional instrumentalists on some of the songs include Mouneissa Tandina on drums, Mamadou Diakité on guitar, Harouna Samaké on kamele ngoni, Vincent Courtois on cello, Patrick Ruffino on bass.
Acclaimed musicians Martín Perna (Antibalas, Ocote Soul Sounds), Gangbe Brass, several members of Antibalas, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo have participated in the recording of a song to support the Kids Against Malaria initiative. The message of the song is pretty basic: sleep under an insecticide treated mosquito net and get to a medical provider as soon as you’re feeling sick.
The Kids Against Malaria effort started with a song written by teacher Sim D’Souza and his students at an arts and music elementary school in Whydah (Oidah), Benin, called CIAMO. The song reached musician and filmmaker Jon Fine, who produced the song by enlisting the support of renowned Afrobeat and world music artists.
The “Kids Against Malaria” project was launched. It’s a multi-language musical project focusing on malaria treatment and prevention. With the international team, the producers filmed and recorded in New York City and Benin with support from the United States Embassy in Benin, UNICEF, The President’s Malaria Initiative, USAID, Peace Corps, the CDC, The UN Foundation and Harvard University.
Malaria is still widespread in much of the world. About 3.2 billion people – nearly half the planet’s population – are at risk. The disease, spread by the bite of female mosquitoes infected with Plasmodium parasites, is generally deadly for pregnant women and children under the age of five. It’s estimated that 1,200 children a day are dying from malaria around the world. Malaria is both preventable and curable.
All the proceeds from downloads, music videos, ringtones, educational videos, and social media initiatives, earned from the song will benefit CIAMO School of Music (for arts education), The UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign (to purchase nets) and Harvard University’s Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe initiative (for Malaria research).
Angélique Kidjo is one of the African singers with more attraction and performance power. The direct rhythms, strong, energetic, taken from the traditions of her homeland, Benin (Western Africa), are combined with the sounds of reggae, samba, funk, soul, gospel, zouk and many more.
On stage is where Kidjo shows her charisma. She is a great dancer. With her very short hair style, she is a real version of the “postmodern” African woman. In addition, she has the ability of communicating with her audience, a gift that is transmitted just as well live as on her CDs. “Even when I am singing alone in my own studio, I imagine that I am with my audience.”
Kidjo was born in Cotonou and was raised in Quidah, a small coastal city of Benin, a country that harbors numerous cultures. The main language of Benin is Fon, the language that Angélique uses more often when she sings, although she also sings in English, a language that she speaks with fluency, as well as French.
Kidjo comes from a family with nine siblings, who have an open mind about international music. Her mother, a choreographer and theatrical director, has had a profound influence in the life of Angélique, who used to act in her mother’s plays when she was a little girl.
Traditional music was not the only kind of music that the young Angelique used to listen to. Benin, in the 1970s was open to numerous styles: salsa, Zairean rumba, makossa from Cameroon, soul, funk, Gospel… even Arabic and Indian music was available. Her brother, a guitarist, introduced her to the sounds of Santana and they memorized his songs.
When she was still an adolescent, Kidjo began to tour Benin performing at local festivals and on the radio. She was one of the few female artists doing this. People in Benin didn’t look kindly to women who tried to make a professional living from singing. “It was so hard. I really had to fight.”
Miriam Makeba, the South African singer, was one of her main idols and Kidjo performed some of her songs, like the Swahili ballad Malaika.
She moved to Paris in 1983, where she found a melting pot of music. Some of the most famous West African musicians, such as Salif Keita and Manu Dibango, were also in Paris, either recording albums or living there. African musicians mixed with Caribbean, French and American musicians. The result was an explosion of hot rhythms and a crossed fertilization of world-beat styles that found an echo in the in the musical experience of Kidjo and created the most appropriate environment so that she could develop her own style.
“Some call it afro-funk, they can call it whatever they want, but it is really difficult to classify my music within only one style. Even when I use my own traditional music I don’t try to recreate just only style but rather I mix it all.”
Kidjo took advantage of her stay in Paris to enroll in a jazz school. “There, I was taught many things, I improved my tone and I learned flexibility for my voice.” It was an important element for someone whose native language is Fon, which is tonic, with a soft oscillating musical profile.
Angélique joined a Dutch Afro-jazz group, Pili Pili, with which she recorded two albums. Together they participated at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1987. That same year she met Jean Hebrail, a French bassist and composer, whom she married sometime later.
Parakou, her first internationally distributed album, featured Jasper van’t Hof, the leader of Pili Pili.
Logozo, recorded in Miami in 1991 and produced by Joe Galdo of Miami Sound Machine, featured Branford Marsalis on saxophone. Marsalis later performed on Kidjo’s album Oremi. The album features Kidjo singing duets with Cassandra Wilson (“Never Know”) and Kelly Price (“Open Your Eyes”).
Kidjo’s most ambitious album, Fifa (1996), featured more than 100 percussionists, flutists, cowbell and berimbau players, singers, and dancers from Benin and one track featuring Carlos Santana.
In 1998, she started a trilogy of albums, Oremi, Black Ivory Soul and Oyaya that explored the African roots of the music of the Americas. Oremi featured Cassandra Wilson, Branford Marsalis, Kelly Price and Kenny Kirkland.
During 2001, Kidjo started to work on the Black Ivory Soul album, drawing connections between Benin and music of Bahía, Brazil. “For the new album, I went to Brazil and wrote songs with Carlinhos Brown, and Vinicius Cantuaria, and I am covering a song by Gilberto Gil, which he wrote after traveling to Benin.” The album also features drummer Ahmir Thompson, from the Roots, and Romero Lumbambo, the Brazilian guitar master, along with African and Bahianese players. “The concept of the album is based on my research into truth and the idea of bringing people together through music.”
Kidjo won the 2008 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music for her album Djin Djin, and in the same year received Benin’s Commander of National Order of Merit for loyal services to the nation. Kidjo dedicated her Grammy award to the “women of Darfur, the women who are fighting every day to give their kids an education.” On Djin Djin, Kidjo collabnotrated with guest stars including Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Carlos Santana, Joss Stone, Ziggy Marley, Branford Marsalis and Josh Groban. The record was a return to Kidjo’s Beninese roots, capturing the most traditional rhythms from her country. It comprised material sung in her native languages as well as in English and French.
Since March 2009, Kidjo has been campaigning for “Africa for women’s rights”–a movement launched by The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH). In September of 2009, UNICEF and Pampers launched the ‘Give the Gift of Life’ campaign to eradicate Tetanus and asked Kidjo to produce a song, “You Can Count On Me,” where each download of the song donated a vaccine to a mother or mother-to-be. She also campaigned for Oxfam at the Hong Kong WTO meeting for their Fair Trade Campaign, participated in the video for the ‘In My Name Campaign’ with Will I Am from The Black Eyed Peas, and was one of the LiveEarth Ambassadors for the 2010 ‘Run For Water’ events along with Jessica Biel and Pete Wentz.
Also in 2010, musician and philanthropist Peter Buffett and Kidjo teamed up to release “A Song For Everyone.” 100% of proceeds from the sale of the song benefited the Batonga Foundation, an organization founded by Angelique to advance education for girls in Africa.
Oyo, released in 2010, celebrates the music that shaped Kidjo’s artistic formation, including “Lakutshona 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,” a tribute to the Aretha Franklin hit, “Baby I Love You;” and a take on James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.”
Oyo features a band of acclaimed musicians, including guitarist Lionel Loueke, Christian McBride on upright bass, Kendrick Scott on drums and Thiokho Diagne on percussion. Trumpeter Roy Hargove makes a memorable appearance on “Samba Pa Ti.”
Kidjo’s 2014 album Eve (429 Records) is named after Kidjo’s mother. Eve is a collection of songs dedicated to the power of African womanhood, mostly those women Angelique grew up with in her native Benin. The guests on the album include Dr. John, Rostamm Btmanglij (Vampire Weekend), the Kronos Quartet and the Orchestra Philharmonique du Luxumbourg, as well as guitarist Lionel Loueke, drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Christian McBride and Senegalese percussionist Magatte Sow.
In 2015 Angelique Kidjo won her second “Best World Music Album” Grammy Award for her Eve album. That same year Kidjo released Sings, recorded with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg, conducted by Gast Waltzing. This project fused the classical music traditions of Europe and the rhythms of her native land. Kidjo recreated nine classic pieces from her 24 year discography and two new songs (“Otishe,” “Mamae”) from the sessions of her Eve album.
The guest artists on Sings include upright bassists Christian McBride and Massimo Biolcati; guitarists Lionel Loueke, Dominic James and David Laborier; Gast Waltzing on flugelhorn; several native Beninese singers, and Brazilian classical guitarist Romero Lubambo.
“The orchestra brings different textures to my life and music,” said Kidjo about her symphonic collaboration. “Unlike in pop music, the orchestra doesn’t follow you, it leads and dares you to follow it. If you don’t do this successfully, the songs suffer and the communication is lost. But I love the challenge of doing new things. I never want to get too comfortable with what I’m doing, and I love my work too much to repeat myself.”
In 2018, Kidjo released the album Remain In Light, where she recreated the music of popular 1980s rock band Talking Heads.
In 2019, she released Celia , a reimagination and celebration of the highly influential salsa star Celia Cruz. Musicians featured include Guests on the album include Nigerian Afrobeat legend Tony Allen on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Sons Of Kemet, and Gangbé Brass Band.
In addition to her music career, Kidjo has devoted much of her adult life to global charity work. She is a spokesperson for UNICEF and Oxfam, and created her own charity, Batonga, which aims to create a culture that values and supports the secondary education of girls in Africa.