Angélique Kidjo and Special Guests to Perform Celebratory Program at Carnegie Hall
On the heels of winning her fourth Grammy Award, Angélique Kidjo concludes her Perspectives series with Daughter of Independence on Saturday, March 14 at 8:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium/ Perelman Stage. The concert marks both her 60th birthday and the anniversary of independence of her native Benin in addition to sixteen other West African nations. For this momentous occasion, Kidjo is joined by Grammy Award-winning vocalist Brittany Howard (of Alabama Shakes), legendary Cameroonian singer Manu Dibango, Senegalese singer and guitarist Baaba Maal, and Nigerian Afropop singer-songwriter Yemi Alade, to celebrate her remarkable musical career.
“When I look back at 60 years of independence for my country, I feel that my life and career have been shaped in many ways by the postcolonial history of West Africa: I consider myself a true daughter of African independence,” says Kidjo. “I hope the audience leaves the March performance understanding that it doesn’t matter where you come from; it doesn’t matter your skin color or which language you speak. Music reduces it all to the fundamental element that speaks to us all as human beings.”
About the Artists
Angélique Kidjo’s performances over the past two decades have thrilled audiences and left an indelible mark on the history of Carnegie Hall. In 2014, she closed Carnegie Hall’s UBUNTU festival with a tribute to singer Miriam Makeba that inspired concertgoers-including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu-to rise to their feet and sing along. In 2017, Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne joined Kidjo on stage for her cover of the band’s hit “Once in a Lifetime” before she led a conga line that made its way throughout Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage. The upcoming series is sure to give audiences more unforgettable moments with performances featuring outstanding guest artists joining together to celebrate one of music’s most vibrant voices.
Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today. A creative force with 14 albums to her name, Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva.” The BBC has included her in its list of the continents’ 50 most iconic figures, and, in 2011, The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes magazine has ranked Angélique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.
As a performer, Kidjo’s striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. She regularly tours globally performing the high-energy music for which she is known with her four-piece band. For her most recent project-an interpretation of the Talking Heads’ classic 1980 album, Remain in Light-Kidjo recorded her version of the album with superstar producer Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Jay Z, Drake, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Taylor Swift), creating thrilling new arrangements of the iconic songs, later bringing the musical extravaganza to concert halls and festivals across the globe including Carnegie Hall and its US festival debut at Bonnaroo. Among her other projects, her collaboration with composer Philip Glass, titled IFÉ: Three Yorùbá Songs, made its US debut to a sold-out concert with the San Francisco Symphony in June 2015.
Along with her performance schedule, Kidjo also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and Oxfam Goodwill Ambassador. She created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to support the education of young girls in Africa.
Brittany Howard blasted onto the music scene as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the American blues rock band Alabama Shakes in 2010. The group lived up to their namesake by shaking up the music landscape with their indelible roots-rock sound. The band earned multiple Grammy Awards for their second album, Sound & Color, including Best Alternative Music Album in 2016.
Fans and critics alike have praised Howard’s first solo album, Jaime, which dropped in September 2019. Dedicated to Howard’s sister who passed away as a teen, the album topped Billboard’s U.S. Americana/Folk Albums chart and hit No. 2 on the Top Rock Albums and Top Independent Albums charts. The album’s lead single, “History Repeats,” even garnered Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance. And rock she does, to a colorful, energetic, nearly boundless extent. She performed songs from the triumphant solo collection in August, September, and October of last year. Some dates were ahead of the album’s release and unsurprisingly, her solo shows received rave reviews with The Guardian describing Howard as “a funk-rooted tour de force” for her Amsterdam show. She’ll be carrying that vibrant energy forward to venues across America next year and rock lovers won’t want to miss an opportunity to witness Brittany Howard’s musical magic firsthand.
Cameroonian saxophonist and vibraphone player Manu Dibango began his musical journey as a piano student. Not having a keyboard at home to rehearse his music lessons, he spent time using his friend’s saxophone which has today become his longest companion. Dibango developed a musical style fusing jazz and traditional Cameroonian music.
Widely known for his 1972 single “Soul Makossa,” which is often considered the first disco record and sold millions of copies worldwide. Following the “Soul Makossa” frenzy, Dibango traveled widely, absorbing new sounds and undertaking collaborative projects with musicians who represented an array of Afro-Caribbean, African, and African American popular music genres. Several years later, he recorded two albums-Gone Clear and Ambassador–in collaboration with a host of Jamaica’s most prominent reggae performers.
After the release of the funk-flavored Surtension in 1982, Dibango worked with an international lineup of jazz luminaries, such as American pianist Herbie Hancock in Electric Africa and South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela in Afrijazzy.