Angélique Kidjo; Thursday, June 19, 2014

Kuumbwa Jazz Presents
Angélique Kidjo
Thursday, June 19
At the Rio Theatre

“Africa’s premiere diva.– Time Magazine

A true transnational artist, Angélique Kidjo’s African roots shine brightly throughout her music. Heavily influenced by South African legend Miriam Makeba, Kidjo also absorbed the influences of the American popular artists from her youth, such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Jimi Hendrix. In the ’80s, she was among a new wave of African performers blending Western pop music with traditional African forms. The creative result was a revitalized music style, both entertaining and socially conscious. Her latest recording, named for her mother, Eve, honors all the women of Africa, their resilience and their beauty, and puts Angélique’s strong voice back in the spotlight where she belongs.

Born and raised in Benin, in West Africa, Angélique Kidjo was surrounded by musical and artistic family members. Her mother was the director of a theater group. Her father was a musician, and her brothers all played instruments. As a child, she was enveloped by the traditional folk music of her country, singing and dancing in her mother’s theatrical groups and with her brothers’ band. By her teen years, she regularly heard Western pop music on the local radio. American soul singers and, later, the psychedelia of Jimi Hendrix, were all making an impression on the young Angélique, as were contemporary African artists, such as the legendary Miriam Makeba. As Western pop music was making in-roads to Africans, so too was African music influencing musicians in Europe and the West. In 1983, as Kidjo was becoming popular in her native country, she chose, for political and career reasons, to move to Paris. More on Kidjo’s escape from Communist Africa to make her dreams a reality can be read in her recently published autobiography Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music. The book details her dangerous escape into France, and how she rose from poverty to become a Grammy Award-winning artist and international advocate for freedom.

In Paris, Kidjo found a large community of African musicians and artists contributing to a new blend of dance music called Afro-pop. Characterized by lilting guitar ostinatos, engaged with a driving drum beat, and (usually) socially conscious lyrics, Afro-pop often referenced political situations in the artists’ home countries. Alafia was the first group that Angélique recorded with in France. Afterwards, she joined the jazz-oriented Pili Pili and played the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1986. At about that same time, she met her future husband, bassist/composer Jean Hebrail, and they started writing their own music. Together, they released her debut solo album, Parakou, and Kidjo began her rise on the international stage as a voice for peace and understanding.

Over the decades, the Grammy Award-winning Kidjo has used her celebrity status to draw attention to many of the problems in Africa, from malnutrition to social strife. With the release of Eve, she has created a singular and inventive tribute to her mother and the women of her homeland.

Angélique Kidjo

DATE: Thursday, June 19, 2014
VENUE: Rio Theatre
ADDRESS: 1205 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
TIME: 7:30 PM
PRICE: $55/Gold Circle Section, $40/General Admission
TICKETS: Logos Books & Records, 1117 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz (831) 427-5100 and online at:
MORE INFO: or 831-427-2227

Media contact:
Chris Schimpf
(212) 741-1000

# # #

Category: Press Releases · Tags:

Stay Connected

Facebook Twitter YouTube Flickr
Tumblr Kuumbwa Jazz Blog RSS FeedInstagram