Angelique Kidjo - The Basics:
Angelique Kidjo was born in Ouidah, Benin on July 14, 1960. Her mother was a performer in a dance and theatre ensemble and her father was a banjo player. These influences shaped Kidjo's love for the stage and performing. After leaving Benin in the early 1980s because of the unstable political climate, Kidjo lived in Paris for a time. She now makes her home in New York with her husband and their teenage daughter.
Angelique Kidjo - The Sound:
Angelique Kidjo's music is rooted in the music of Benin, both traditional and contemporary. It is her love for other genres of music that have led her to international fame, though, as her use of jazz and pop influences in her music have made her accessible to people from all over the globe. She sings in four languages and has worked with many of the world's finest musicians, including Joss Stone, Peter Gabriel and Ziggy Marley.
Angelique Kidjo's Career:
Angelique Kidjo achieved moderate success as a solo musician in her early 20s, but her career really took off when she joined the European jazz-funk-African fusion band Pili Pili as the lead singer in the mid-1980s. After touring extensively with that group for several years, a revived attempt at a solo career proved successful with both critics and fans, and eventually led to major international fame.
Angelique Kidjo's Humanitarian Work:
In 2002, Angelique Kidjo was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF, and used her voice and her influence to reach people worldwide to discuss some of the major issues affecting the people of Africa: the spread of HIV/AIDS, poverty and hunger, and conflict and war in places such as Darfur. Kidjo has also started her own foundation, the Batonga Foundation, to help fund and support education for young girls in Africa.
When Angelique Kidjo was a struggling young singer living in Paris, she enrolled in law school for a time, thinking that she would never make it as a musician.