Mondjuba

Angelique Kidjo, as always beautiful and uplifting. Every time I research a post about her, I find news about all the inspiring things she’s doing to help the world. She’s always on to a new project, whether it’s an album, a memoir, charity work, or political activism. To say she’s inspiring doesn’t begin to do her work justice. But there wouldn’t be any activism or humanitarian work without the music; music is power.

Lon Lon Vadjro/Lonlon

More Angelique! Always more. You might get tired of her but I don’t. But I’m putting these two together. Because similar titles and whatnot. The first is actually one of my dearest favorites; it’s incredibly upbeat and has kind of a martial feel to it. Or so it seems to me. It’s a get-up-and-go song with a lot of energy, and I think Kidjo vocal is outstanding. The other is an arrangement of Ravel’s Bolero, which never, ever gets old. Although they were recorded more than a decade apart, they maintain a continuity. Kidjo has dabbled in a lot of styles over the years, forging a truly global sound, but she remains recognizable and consistent. Partly because her voice is remarkable, and of course, whatever genre she dips into, she puts her own mark on it.

Loloye

As usual, I haven’t a clue what this song is about. But I trust that Angelique Kidjo always has a message of great positivity. Though I don’t know much about her, she seems like a very spiritual person, not of the didactic kind but the giving kind, if you know what I mean. I know that she is a dedicated activist and humanitarian, so she is a giver in the material sense. But I also feel like she is one of those people who gives in the spiritual sense just by radiating her own inner goodness. It’s something that comes out in her music, and her personal charisma is warm and embracing. I mean, a lot of people are charismatic the way alligators are charismatic; they won’t hesitate to eat you alive, but you can’t turn away from them anyway. While others have the power to give aid and comfort just by existing and projecting positive energy. I know that sounds New Age as fuck, and corny and stupid, but psychic forces are a thing, and some people have strong ones which they can use for good or for evil. Angelique Kidjo is a person who can make others feel good just hearing her voice, singing words we don’t understand. That’s an example of someone using their magic powers, otherwise known as talent, as a force of good in the world. Obviously, material activism doesn’t hurt either, but she wouldn’t have a platform for her activism if she didn’t have the innate ability to turn people’s heads and make them listen. Being a voice people want to listen to is an incredible power to have, and we should appreciate those who have it and use it to implement positive change in the world.

Le Monde Comme un Bebe

I dunno, something about a baby? At least I can tell that it’s French. Many times with Angelique Kidjo, I cannot even identify what language she’s singing in. Which doesn’t make me enjoy it any less, but I do get curious sometimes. I think what she’s saying is ‘imagine the world was soft and snugly like a baby’, though that’s a rough guess. The translator robot comes up with a string of nonsense that reminds me of Doge- or LOL- speak. (Which is exactly why you don’t send a robot to do a human’s job, at least not in the realm of poetry.) Anyhow, that’s enough to get the sentiment, and it’s a great song even if you don’t. The sexy male vocal is the French Guyanese singer Henri Salvador. He was 86 years old at the time and passed away four years later, but you wouldn’t guess it from his singing.

Koro-Koro

It seems like I haven’t featured Angelique Kidjo in a long time, so to make up for it, here’s two songs. I have already featured Agolo on this blog, but this is a Spanish version, so I can understand at least some of the words, if not string them together into a coherent whole. In recent news, Kidjo has just published a memoir, Spirit Rising, detailing her life and long career; from her upbringing in Benin; her eventual escape to Paris after Benin’s Communist rule became too oppressive; her rise from struggling refugee to global-music superstar; her humanitarian work; and her dedication to preserving Benin’s indigenous cultures and musical traditions. It sounds like Kidjo has led a fascinating life, and her memoir promises to be fascinating and inspiring as well. Definitely an item to purchase in the near future.

(Photo via Hello Benin)

Idje-Idje

Epic. This is one of my favorite songs from Benin’s global music ambassador and all-around good-deed-doer Angelique Kidjo. It’s been a couple of years since she’s made a new album, but she tours all the time (don’t miss any chance you have of seeing her!) and of course stays very busy working for UNICEF, Oxfam, and her own Batonga Foundation, among many other good causes. Kidjo is just one of the ultimate examples of an artist who finds great success and then uses it to do everything in their power to make the world a better place. Makes you go all weepy thinking about it. Kidjo’s dearest cause is empowering girls and women in Africa, which Batonga does through financing and supplying schools and raising money for scholarships. A lot of stars on all levels of fame go through the motions of doing charitable work, but very few truly dedicate themselves to it. Kidjo is one of those whose humanitarian work is at least as big a priority as her day job, and certainly more important than maintaining a glamorous lifestyle or purchasing castles and yachts, or whatever it is rich people do to be conspicuous.

Houngbati

It’s been a while since I’ve featured anything from Angelique Kidjo. Do not, fear fans, I haven’t forgotten her. It’s just been difficult to find her songs on YouTube, always a challenge with the more obscure artists. It’s been a couple of years since the great lady released a new album, but she’s kept busy touring, working for UNICEF, raising money for AIDS research and women’s rights, and generally making the world a better place. Makes me all weepy to think of all the good she’s doing. Kidjo has been more than an entertainer; she’s made it her mission to use her global fame to teach and empower. Although I rarely understand the words of her songs, I believe that message is in there to be felt.