Five-Time Grammy-Winning Afropop Diva Angélique Kidjo Performs as Part of August Wilson African-American Cultural Center’s Soul Sessions, Thursday, October 27, 8:00 pm
Angélique Kidjo, the Benin-born, Paris-based vocalist, who for four decades has reigned supreme as the queen of Afropop/world music and has sung the music of James Brown and Jimi Hendrix, comes to the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (AWAACC), 980 Liberty Ave., Thursday, October 27, 8:00 pm, to perform as part of Soul Sessions, a series of intimate concerts featuring some of the most talented artists today.
The Soul Sessions series continues February 14 with a romantic Valentine's Day concert with Peabo Bryson followed by Meshell Ndegeocello on March 10 and Stokley on April 5. All concerts are at 8:00 pm.
Kidjo comes to Pittsburgh with several new projects. She recently performed NPR's 1, 000th Tiny Desk Concert, she's featured on singer Jessy Wilson's track, "Keep Rising, " from the motion picture, The Woman King, and her latest recording, Queen of Sheba, is a cross-cultural collaboration with French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf that unites the Motherland and the Middle East in a moving musical portrait of the legendary monarch.
Dubbed "Africa's premier diva" by Time magazine, Kidjo's 15 albums, all feature her vivrant, multilingual vocals — from her native Fon/Yoruba language and zilin vocal techniques, to French and Spanish to English and vocalese — percussively powered by Caribbean zouk, Congolese and Afro-Cuban rumba, jazz, gospel, R&B and rock. Kidjo has an impressive potpourri of songs to draw from, including her hits, like the infectious "Watonga, " "Azolo" and "Aye" and her more recent recordings, Celia (her heartfelt tribute to the celebrated Afro-Cuban chanteuse, Celia Cruz) Remain in Light (her rhythmic reimagining of the alt-rock group the Talking Heads' greatest hits) and Mother Nature, released in 2021.
Kidjo's import of African-derived rhythms and song-forms into Western musical genres is less of an exotic exercise, and more of a natural return to the source of all music. "There is no music without African input, " she says in an NPR interview. "Why? Because Africa is the cradle of humanity, all Homo sapiens originally came from Africa. The music from Africa is here to last forever."
Kidjo is equally celebrated for her humanitarian and philanthropic work, as evidenced by her Batonga Foundation, which equips the hardest-to-reach girls and young women with the knowledge and skills they need to be agents of change in their own lives and communities. She also has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and as Vice President of CISAC, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers.
If there is anyone who could be called the Mother of African Music since the beloved Miriam Makeba, it would be Angélique Kidjo.
About August Wilson African American Cultural Center:
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is a non-profit cultural organization located in Pittsburgh's cultural district that generates artistic, educational, and community initiatives that advance the legacy of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. One of the largest cultural centers in the country focused exclusively on the African American experience and the celebration of Black culture and the African diaspora, the non-profit organization welcomes more than 119, 000 visitors locally and nationally. Through year-round programming across multiple genres, such as the annual Pittsburgh International Jazz Festival, Black Bottom Film Festival, AWCommunity Days, TRUTHSayers speaker series, and rotating art exhibits in its galleries, the Center provides a platform for established and emerging artists of color whose work reflects the universal issues of identity that Wilson tackled, and which still resonate today. www.awaacc.org
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