African Superstar Angelique Kidjo Talks To GoLocal
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Hailed as Africa's premier diva by Time Magazine, Kidjo's captivating music blends the richness of African culture with a sense of compelling passion that any one can relate to. Angelique Kidjo sat down with GoLocalProv to go into more detail about her incredible journey and her motivational outlook on music's relationship to life.
When did you first fall in love with singing?
I started singing when I was around 6 years old back in Africa. I sang with my mother in a theatre group with many other children. I used to be so nervous to sing, but my mother would always encourage me to get up there and sing my heart out. After a while, my mother would tease me because I realized I was good and my ego became much bigger!
Was music a large part of your heritage growing up?
Absolutely. I was constantly surrounded by music. My dad used to actually sneak me into clubs when I was around 9 years old so that I could sing and just be around all of the energy. In Africa, music is like a tremendous celebration where everyone is included. It's not a "show" where people sit still watching. Instead, it's an experience that elevates everyone in the room and acts as a mural showing our culture and a story. Recorded music actually isn't that popular in Africa because interacting with the audience in the celebration of music is such an crucial part of being a performer.
You have covered some of the greatest rock and roll songs in history such as Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child and interpreted them in your own unique African style. What drew you to those songs?
I specifically remember hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time when my brother started playing the guitar back in Africa. I was so intrigued because I had never seen or heard a guitar before, and I was lucky enough to have Jimi Hendrix be my first listening experience on the guitar. Although we were from completely different parts of the world, the sound of the guitar and the way it blended with the rest of these instruments I had never heard before captivated me. It just goes to show that music has the capability to bridge people from different cultures in such a concrete and enduring way. Jimi's music as well as the African culture that has always touched my life inspired me to create a style of music that spoke to me.
What is going through your mind when you are on stage performing?
Nothing. When I step on that stage, all I do is just embody the love, support and energy the crowd gives me and connect with the song I am singing on every possible level. You must have the courage to open yourself up and become the song. This is the only way that the audience can ever feel a true connection with you.
How strongly do you feel music can influence the way others act and think?
I like to think of music as a currency for peace. I feel that I and all artists have a responsibility to promote peace because we are representing our people and cultures on that stage. We have a responsibility to create art that contributes to humanity, not to promote hatred that brings it down. Music has a wonderful ability to create a bond with people who speak a completely different language.
I have had rehearsals with people who cannot speak my language, yet the overwhelming passion in the rehearsal brought us together in an incredible way. I feel that music in its perfect form involves all of us coming together regardless of differences, and we can only do that through love.
Do you have any advice for up and coming artists in the music scene?
Quality artists in music always must stay true to themselves. If an artist does not feel truth and love in their music, then they ought to pursue something they can adore. I am so fortunate because music has given me the opportunity to combine so many of my interests. I am able to sing, advocate for peace, contribute to others who need assistance, and make me feel as if I am participating in something larger than myself. Music should always be defined by passion and love.
For more information/tickets for Kidjo's performance on Friday, February 22, go online here.
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