Angelique Kidjo was born in the West African country of Benin. She grew up listening to traditional music but was soon influenced by American rhythm and blues singers and jazz artists. She started composing at age 10, writing about political topics starting at a very early age.
ANGELIQUE KIDJO: When I first heard about slavery, I cried. I was mad like you don't even imagine. My first song that I wrote was a very hateful song. And my dad said to me, "Not in my house. You're going to rewrite this because hate is not the response to this. Whatever you do in your life as a musician, try to reach out to people. Try to build a bridge. Be the person of light, not the person of darkness."
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Kidjo is performing at U.C. Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on November 17th at 8pm.
Reese Erlich’s “Jazz Perspectives” air monthly on Crosscurrents. To discover more jazz artists, visit www.jazzcorner.com/innerviews.