Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Mark Wedel interviews Angélique Kidjo.
In the middle of enthusiastically speaking about the uniting power of music, Angelique Kidjo stopped herself to ask: ``Can you imagine this world without music? Can you? ... People would be jumping off the roofs every day!''

Would people just start making noise until they brought back music?

``I think that's how our ancestors discovered their voice, by screaming and listening to the echo in nature, and listening to the heartbeat to discover a sense of rhythm,'' said Kidjo, on the road somewhere in California. ``Music has always been there for human beings.''

Kidjo will bring her soaring voice and a group of five musicians who specialize in the rhythmic sounds of Afropop to Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Dale Lake Auditorium on Saturday. In addition to music from her native West Africa, she offers modern pop, American R&B, and South American and Caribbean styles.

It's hard to imagine that people will sit still through her show. She'll certainly be dancing, Kidjo said. ``I'm in paradise when I'm on stage.''

Kidjo was born in the West African country of Benin in 1960 and moved in the '80s to Paris, where she became a popular performer. In the '90s, she had a series of Afropop dance hits and earned Grammy nominations. She currently lives in New York City.

Her latest CD, ``Djin Djin'' (due out May 1 on Razor & Tie), has Kidjo singing with guest stars Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel and Carlos Santana. It's also a return to the more traditional sounds of Benin and of Africa in general.

Kidjo disputes that it's a return, however. Musically, ``I've always been in Africa,'' she said. Read More

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