Friday, August 03, 2007

Angelique Kidjo - Interview

Angelique Kidjo sings in six different languages on her latest album — two fewer than she speaks.

She realizes that few, if any, of her fans are as linguistically versatile, but she views differences in language as an opportunity, not a hindrance.

Kidjo, a native of Benin, a small country next to Nigeria on the western coast of Africa, said she has learned through her extensive travels that it is the music — and the emotion behind it — that brings people together, not necessarily the lyrics.

"Music is a universal language," Kidjo said during a telephone interview from her New York City apartment. "That's one of the first things I learned from traditional singers and musicians from my country — the power of music to bring people together.

"Music breaks boundaries."

Kidjo knows better than most, as she has traveled the world both as a musician and as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. When words fail, she knows she can always turn to her music.

Kidjo, a four-time Grammy nominee, will bring her exotic brand of polyrhythmic Afro-pop to the Giant Center tonight when she opens for singer Josh Groban.

Groban happens to be one of the many stellar musicians who guest-star on Kidjo's latest album, "Djin Djin" (pronounced Gin Gin).

He helps out on a cover of Sade's "Pearls," and Kidjo said they will perform the song together tonight during Groban's set.

Also featured on the album are Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana, Branford Marsalis, Ziggy Marley, Joss Stone and Peter Gabriel.

"The only one I had for sure from the beginning was Alicia Keys," Kidjo said. "Because we have worked together in the past, she expressed an interest in what I was writing and she said, 'Let's do something together.'
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