14 July 1960, Ouidah, Benin, West Africa. Angélique Kidjos family background provided her with both the impetus and platform to launch her singing career. Her mother, the director of Benins first professional theatre/dance company, travelled widely to research different dances and rhythms for the companys ballets. Kidjo was part of the company from the age of six, and progressed from dancing to learning French variété songs, gradually adding material from the Beatles and Miriam Makeba. The local music most popular in Ouidah was based on the gobahon rhythm, a percussion effect achieved by slapping different parts of the body in a steady pulse similar to that of reggae. Traditional singers, who rooted their storytelling in an anecdotal, blues-based style, also influenced Kidjos technique.
Although the market for Kidjos marriage of cool jazz and soul has long since extended beyond her native...
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