NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2015 (IPS) – African singer, showstopper and activist Angélique Kidjo, won her second Grammy Award for the Best World Music Album which she dedicated to African women.
Speaking at the red carpet ceremony held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, she credited the women whose passion and strength in their music inspired the final product.
“Eve is an album of remembrance of African women I grew up with and a testament to the pride and strength that hide behind the smile that masks everyday troubles,” says Kidjo, whose accolades include a 20 year discography, thousands of concerts around the world and being named “Africa’s premier diva” (Time Magazine) and “the undisputed Queen of African Music” (Daily Telegraph). “They exuded a positivity and grace in a time of hardship.
“On this recording I am letting the voices of the women show their beauty to the world,” she adds. “Eve is all about showcasing the positivity they bring to their villages, cities, culture and the world.”
She also carried away the Crystal Award, given for her concern with humanitarian issues and commitment to making a difference.
Kidjo, who is based primarily in New York, had been travelling in the Samburu region in the north of Kenya when she was swept into a group of singing women. A cell phone recording of that moment was worked into a song . She then decided that women and women’s voices would define the entire recording including her own mother’s voice. The album “Eve,” is named for her mother.
In total she recorded more than 100 women, and sings in multiple languages.
The album features a diverse array of musical collaborators including the Kronos string quartet, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra and keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij of the indie rock band Vampire Weekend.
A UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Kidjo has been outspoken on climate change and improving the public health sector on the continent.
During a recent visit to her West African birthplace of Benin, Ms. Kidjo urged the government to support “Second Chance” – a program for young people who were unable to finish school. Students at “Second Chance” learn basic reading, writing and math over a three-year period in order to pass the national exam and receive their primary study certificate. The coursework would normally take six years.
Among the many tributes she has received, Ms. Kidjo is the first woman to be listed on Forbes’ magazines 40 Most Powerful Celebrities In Africa.