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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Concert Review: Angelique Kidjo

Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) was alive and kicking on Saturday evening for the Angelique Kidjo concert. Kidjo brought her soaring voice and group of five musicians who specialize in the rhythmic sounds of Afropop.

In the middle of enthusiastically speaking about the uniting power of music, Angelique Kidjo stopped herself to ask: "Can you imagine this world without music? Can you? People would be jumping off roofs every day?"

In addition to music from her native West Africa, she offers modern pop-American R&B, and South American and Caribbean styles.

No one sat still through her show. She was certainly dancing. "I'm in paradise when I'm on stage."

Kidjo was born in the West African country of Benin in 1960 and moved in the '80s to Paris, where she became a popular performer. In the '90s , she had a series of Afropop dance hits and earned Grammy nominations.

Her latest CD, "Djin Djin" (due out May 1, but she had copies for sale which I quickly bought one) has Kidjo singing with guest starts Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel and Carlos Santana. It's also a return of the more traditional sounds of Benin and of Africa in general.

Kidjo demonstrated the expansive range and depth of her vocal power. Her voice is guttural and she reaches deep within herself for a rich and, at times, masculine tone. She sings with great emotion and is definitely enjoying herself.

I was fortunate to see her Saturday evening and was deeply impressed by her commanding stage presence. I really had no idea any about her music when I bought her ticket. Standing barely five feet tall, Kidjo dances with incredible energy and grace; she also knows how to get people on the dance floor.

This was one of the best concerts I have seen in ages and would go again in a heartbeat.

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