Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, popularly known as Angelique Kidjo, is a remarkable figure in the world of music, activism, and philanthropy. Born on July 14, 1960, in Ouidah, Benin, she has achieved international recognition as a talented singer, songwriter, actress, and human rights activist.
With an impressive net worth of $10 million, Kidjo has won four Grammy Awards and serves as a UNICEF international goodwill ambassador. Let’s delve into the life and achievements of this extraordinary Beninese artist.
Early Life and Education:
Angelique Kidjo was born into a family of nine in Ouidah, Benin. Her father, of Fon ancestry, and her mother, of Yoruba descent, instilled in her a deep appreciation for music and the arts. Growing up bilingual, she fluently speaks French, English, Fon, Yoruba, and three other African languages. Kidjo’s passion for music began at an early age when she performed with her mother’s theatre group and sang in school and local bands.
Influences and Career:
Kidjo drew inspiration from a diverse range of African musicians, including the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Fela Kuti, and James Brown, as well as iconic figures like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder. In 1983, due to political turmoil in Benin, she relocated to Paris, where she started her career as a backup singer.
She later joined the Euro-African jazz/rock band Pili Pili as the lead vocalist. Kidjo released her first album, “Pretty,” in 1988, which gained significant success, allowing her to tour West Africa. She subsequently signed with Island Records and later Columbia Records, producing hit albums and captivating audiences worldwide.
Philanthropy and Activism:
In addition to her musical accomplishments, Angelique Kidjo is renowned for her advocacy work. She co-founded The Batonga Foundation, which aims to provide education and empowerment to young women and girls in Benin. As a UNICEF international goodwill ambassador, Kidjo actively promotes various projects and initiatives. The foundation offers scholarships, constructs schools, improves teaching standards, and advocates for girls’ education, empowering them to become catalysts for change in their communities.
In Paris, Kidjo met Jean Hebrial, a musician and producer, who has been instrumental in her musical endeavors. They tied the knot in 1987 and have a daughter named Naimat Hebrial Kidjo, born in 1993. Naimat, an actress and writer, serves as a constant source of inspiration for Kidjo and her work.
Angelique Kidjo has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the music industry, using her talent and platform to bring attention to important social issues. With her mesmerizing voice and captivating performances, she continues to inspire and uplift audiences worldwide.
Beyond her musical prowess, Kidjo’s dedication to empowering women and girls in her native Benin through The Batonga Foundation demonstrates her commitment to effecting positive change. As she continues her journey, Angelique Kidjo remains a symbol of strength, resilience, and the transformative power of music.