Monday, March 08, 2010

Music Video Monday: Angelique Kidjo

In honour of International Women's Day today, I'm featuring a video of Angelique Kidjo's performance of "Adouma" from an Australian television program that I found on YouTube. I first discovered her music in 1995 and was immediately hooked because of her exotic African rhythms mixed with Western pop. She found success in Europe, but remains relatively obscure in the U.S. In fact, when I meet fellow Americans who have heard of her or like her music, I feel an instant bond.

She was one of the scheduled performers at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, and I was excited for the chance to finally see her in concert. However, the Olympic Park bombing closed the park for a week, and all the scheduled performers were either cancelled or rescheduled. Her concert date was rescheduled for the same day that Johnny Clegg was performing, and since I had VIP tickets and backstage passes for that concert, I was not able to see both.

In February 2000, I got my chance to see Angelique Kidjo for free during the Millennium Concert series at the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. It was crowded, but I loved it, even though the concert was in one of the grand hallways and standing room only. It wasn't until 2002 when I got to see an actual concert, in Atlanta's Little Five Points neighbourhood. One thing I loved about her performance is that she MAKES the audience get up and dance, and even join her on stage. She doesn't tolerate people sitting down and watching her show. She wants you to move! I love her energetic vibe and sense of humour. She was recently interviewed on Tavis Smiley's show, promoting a new album. I haven't been impressed with her last few albums (she's gotten so mellow!). My favourite one of hers is 2002's Black Ivory Soul (her duet with Dave Matthews is an awesome song!), but her three albums from the 1990s offer the most upbeat rhythms of her career. I kind of wish she'd get back to that, but it appears that she prefers experimenting...with jazz, Brazilian jazz, and Cuban jazz. I'm not really big on jazz, unless it has that cool, upbeat, bee-bop (like the songs in the Russian film Hipsters or the music in the cool Honda commercials lately).

Below is one of her best songs in which someone made their own YouTube video for, from still photography images. I don't think she made many music videos. However, this song has a great rhythm / melody. Try sitting still for this one. Thus, to honour international women and my love for them, Angelique Kidjo represents one of the best international women on the world stage. Her tiny West African nation of Benin should be very proud of their native daughter!

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