Spring 2018: Singer/songwriter Angélique Kidjo


KidjoAngélique Kidjo, the three time Grammy Award winner and singer/songwriter/activist who combines “village traditions,” “cosmopolitan transformations” and “female solidarity” (The New York Times), has been named the 2018 Harvard University Jazz Master. She will perform in concert with the Harvard Jazz Bands 8 p.m. Friday, April 13 at at Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge. The concert is sponsored by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and Harvard Jazz Bands (Yosvany Terry and Mark Olson, conductors). 

Kidjo is from Benin, lives in Brooklyn and has incorporated the sounds of American R&B, funk, jazz and influences from Europe and Latin America in a unique and celebrated style. Her striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple languages have won respect from peers and critics, and have expanded her following across national borders. 

In 2017, Kidjo toured with her newest project, an interpretation of The Talking Heads’ classic 1980 album, Remain in Light. Her star-studded album DJIN DJIN won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Album in 2008, and her album OYO was nominated for the same award in 2011. In January 2014, Kidjo’s memoir Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music (Harper Collins) and her twelfth album, EVE (Savoy/429 Records) were released to critical acclaim. EVE went on to win the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2015, and her historic, orchestral album Sings with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg (Savoy/429 Records) won a Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2016. 

Kidjo has performed genre-bending work with several international orchestras and symphonies including the Bruckner Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Philharmonie de Paris. Her collaboration with Philip Glass, IFÉ: Three Yorùbá Songs, made its U.S. debut to a sold-out concert with the San Francisco Symphony in June 2015. 

Kidjo continues to tour globally performing high-energy concerts and also travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill Ambassador. She created the charitable foundation Batonga, which is dedicated to supporting the education of young girls in Africa. 

In addition to the public concert on April 13, Kidjo will be in residence April 9-14 to rehearse and perform with the Jazz Bands, visit Harvard classes and talk with local public school students.