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Angelique Kidjo to Bring Both Music and Message to Reichhold Saturday

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Jan. 12, 2007 — The truth has set her free; and because she is free, Angelique Kidjo sings with remarkable power and grace. She and her band will share both message and music at the Reichhold Center for the Arts this Saturday at 8 p.m.
“We will be five on stage, but we sound like 10,” was all she hinted about the concert. Kidjo spoke Friday in a news conference at Marriott Frenchman's Reef.
One of the few true African divas to have earned international acclaim, Kidjo is extremely excited about performing on the island because of the rich and diverse musical cultures here. Fluent in five languages, Kidjo uses styles from around the world — African, Latin, Caribbean, jazz, funk and rock — to forge a unique sound all her own. “Music for me is a language, a universal language that we all speak. It doesn’t matter — jazz, funk, Brazilian music, Caribbean, whatever you call the music — it has to deal with humanity and we evolve. Music draws itself from living people and it evolves. I never question my inspiration, I never try to dilute it and I never try to compromise it. It comes the way it comes. The truth stays there. If it’s not the truth I’m not singing it.”
After beginning to sing publicly at age six in the West African nation of Benin, Kidjo has evolved into an inspirational and riveting performer who uses her voice to advance many social causes. Although she decided not to become a human rights lawyer, Kidjo works actively with many human rights organizations, including Oxfam, Amnesty International, UNICEF, and Keep a Child Alive. Her work for small-arms control, in combating malaria and for the city of New Orleans has set her apart as an artist whose work reaches far beyond the stage or studio.
Kidjo was in a New York City studio with Peter Gabriel on Wednesday and at UVI Thursday for a forum at which she talked extensively about her worldviews and her long career. “The truth of the spirit is colorless, it goes everywhere, and that truth is something you never have to compromise. An artist has a responsibility because you are a part of people’s lives. You have to always try to find harmony.”
In addition to working with Gabriel, Kidjo has worked with Alicia Keyes, jazz great Herbie Hancock and guitarist Carlos Santana. Her music is featured in the current film Blood Diamond.
Kidjo, who feels strongly that music transcends our differences, has rare insight into the roots of modern music, which can be found in the traditional music of Africa, “Music is the best example of how linked we all are together. My [album] trilogy of Oremi, Black Ivory Soul and Oyaya! demonstrates that the sound of Africa is still in the music we all listen to today. Pop music or rock and roll would never sound the way it does without the blues, and the blues came from Africa in peoples’ memories.”
Kidjo said her long discography often makes it difficult to decide what to play. “It gets worse year after year to put a repertoire together," she said, "because there are so many songs, but it will be a blend of pretty much everything. I am not Madonna, surrounded by bodyguards; if you want to dance, get up and dance!”
Kidjo’s visit to Reichhold Center is sponsored by First Bank, First Insurance, Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort, Tropical Shipping, Theodore Tunick Insurance Company and the V.I. Council for the Arts.
Tickets are available at Modern Music, Parrot Fish, UVI Bookstore, V.I. Bridal & Tuxedo and the Reichhold Center Box Office at 693-1559.
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