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Angélique Kidjo

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Ouidah, Benin (1982 – present)

Angélique Kidjo (born on July 14, 1960) is a Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer, noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos.

Kidjo was born in Ouidah, Benin. Her father is Fon from Ouidah and her mother is Yoruba . She grew up listening to James Brown, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, and Santana.

By the time she was six, Kidjo was performing with her mother’s theatre troupe, giving her an early appreciation for traditional music and dance. She started singing in her school band Les Sphinx and found success as a teenager with her adaptation of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z” which played on national radio. She recorded the album Pretty with the Camerounese producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar. It featured the songs Ninive, Gbe Agossi and a tribute to the singer Bella Bellow, one of her role models. The success of the album allowed her to tour all over West Africa. Continuing political conflicts in Benin prevented her from being an independent artist in her own country and led her to relocate to Paris in 1982.

While working various day jobs to pay for her tuition, Angelique studied music at the CIM, a reputable school in Paris where she met and married musician and producer Jean Hebrail with whom she has composed most of her music. She started out as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she became the front singer of the known Euro-African / band Jasper Van’t Hof’s Pili Pili. Three Pili Pili studio albums followed: Jakko(1987) Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by marlon klein) and Hotel Babo (1990).

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