Angelique Kidjo in last of Carnegie Hall concert series March 14th

NADINE MATTHEWS | 3/12/2020, midnight
There are few who can match Kidjo’s vivacity, beauty, and spirit onstage and off. The Grammy-winning songstress continues to wow ...
Angelique Kidjo photo

It’s ironic the contrast between much of the subject matter of Kidjo’s music and the enthusiastic response of her audience. “Sometimes I would be so taken aback because the subject is so harsh and yet everybody is dancing and smiling. I’m like, ‘How can that be?’” It dawned on Kidjo that audience response was a clue the impact of her message went beyond the confines of music halls where she performs. “By empowering people by dancing and singing, everybody when they get back home and start thinking how that song can get put in their reality, their home; how can they get a solution for it. That has been a defining moment for me as a singer and songwriter. There’s no subject that’s ‘not suitable.’”

Kidjo reveals she remains energetic not just from her love for what she does but also takes practical steps to make sure she can keep doing it. “I work out a lot. I always have.” She also finds cooking therapeutic. “Cooking is a passion for me and it de-stresses me. Cooking and songwriting are kind of the same because you’re trying to put together the right ingredients. Too much salt is not good, too much pepper is not good. It’s the same thing with songs.”

Cooking is also the perfect event around which to catch up with friends and family who are so important to Kidjo, who has two daughters and has been married to musician Jean Hebrail for 33 years. “When you tour that much you lose contact with your friends and it’s hard to catch up. When I get time to gather people together, I do. Then they’re like ‘She hasn’t forgotten we exist!’” Kidjo reassures them: “I tell them I haven’t forgotten you. I make sure they know that although I am busy, they are still in my heart.”