Articles review on the net, revue d'articles sur la toile

Inscription : feeds, flux :
(Atom) Gabriel Real World News

20 avril 2007

Kidjo makes message magic

Angelique Kidjo performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 9, at the Corvallis High School Theater.

African vocalist uses the beauty of her voice to win audience over

It was 1998, and Lilith Fair was in its second year of bringing fabulous female artists together in a celebration of song and musicianship. The atmosphere of the Oregon Lilith Fairs was always highly charged with positive energy, from the womyn-centric village of craft and clothing booths to the mainly female audience dancing, singing and, occasionally, doffing clothing on a hot summer day.

Lilith Fair, at its best, had the mellow, universal-love vibe of old Country Fair before it went commercial, and without the creepy contingent of old men slyly taking photographs of topless participants and their painted breasts. I suspect actually, were such creepy men caught at Lilith Fair, they would have been summarily throttled by a tie-dyed sarong and thrown onto the stage for Sarah McLachlan to kick.

One of the highlights of attending Lilith Fair was the complimentary music compilation passed out to the audience. The CD contained dozens of female artists, many of which I heard for the first time by listening to the compilation after the event. It was in the 1998 collection that I heard Angelique Kidjo’s incredibly beautiful voice for the first time.

I quickly fell in love with her song “Oremi,” which means friend in Fon, a language of her native Benin, in west Africa. The song, and the album of the same name, propelled the already internationally popular Kidjo into the eyes of the American public. While Kidjo sometimes sings in English and French, her songs as frequently feature Fon, Yoruba, Swahili and other languages native to West Africa.

No matter the language, Kidjo’s songs deal with issues of social justice and human rights, from native rights to gender equality. It’s not surprising that her work as an artist has also led to a prominent role in international organizations, most prominently as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. She has been a voice for UNICEF since 2000, speaking out on issues ranging from child trafficking to AIDS/HIV.

Kidjo considered becoming a human-rights lawyer before deciding that her music was a valuable tool in communicating issues of justice to a wide audience.

Her latest CD, “Djin Djin,” will be released May 1, and features duets with a number of recording artists, including Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, Carlos Santana and Ziggy Marley. I was lucky enough to get a hold of an early release of the CD, and turned it up loud on a late Saturday morning, hoping its energy would help me get through a round of house cleaning.

“Djin Djin” did the trick, and the household was quickly dancing and jumping in rhythm to the music, and in short order, everything was gleaming again. To Kidjo’s credit as a musician, none of the “big names” who joined her on the CD ever overpowered her incredible vocals, in fact, it was easy to forget her duet partner in the beauty of her own voice.

In fact, although the title song, featuring Alicia Keyes and Branford Marsalis, and “Sedjedo” with Ziggy Marley were especially wonderful, I was even more excited about her solo pieces, including the uplifting “Ae Ae” and her version of Ravel’s Bolero, “Lonlon,” which is astonishingly powerful and a perfect way to end the album.

While the messages in her version of “Gimme Shelter” with Joss Stone, and the moving “Salala” with Peter Gabriel, expand upon her human-rights work, her expressiveness and thoughtfulness comes through in all the pieces, despite the language barriers for most American listeners.

Corvallis will have a chance to experience Kidjo’s mix of traditional African, R&B, jazz and funk during her visit to Corvallis High School May 9. Her album “Djin Djin” will be available locally beginning May 1 at Starbucks and other local music outlets.

Aucun commentaire: