With her joyous voice and formidable stage presence, Benin-born Angelique Kidjo has wowed audiences around the world with an infectious blend of Afrobeat, jazz, R&B, and funk stylings. And not just audiences, but critics too: this year, she won the Polar Music Prize (to add to her five Grammys), and in 2021 Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world, in recognition not only of the power of her music but also of her work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and campaigner for women's rights in Africa. Kidjo is no less feted among her peers: in 2019, when composer Philip Glass premiered his 12th Symphony, he insisted that she be the soloist. Kidjo, you feel, is an artist who will always be in demand.
'[Kidjo's] bridge to Remain in Light carried mutual respect, playful cross-references and sheer pleasure, as she repatriated the grooves in the songs and threaded African words and melodies directly through them. '
New York Times
At her Prague Sounds concert, Kidjo will present one of her most ambitious and intriguing projects: a track-by-track re-imagining of the 1980 Talking Heads album Remain in Light. Kidjo released her version of the album in 2018, produced by Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Drake) and featuring legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen. Her choice to take on an album by a new wave art-rock band from New York is not, however, as incongruous as it might at first seem. On the original Remain in Light (produced by Brian Eno), David Byrne and company were heavily influenced by African polyrhythms and the work of Fela Kuti in creating songs like 'Born Under Punches,' 'Once in a Lifetime,' and 'Houses in Motion.' Indeed, Kidjo recalls thinking, on first hearing the album, 'It might be rock'n'roll, but there's something African to it...and it's got something that's turning my head upside-down.'
'Thirty-eight years after the landmark album, Remain in Light gives new life to the original while further illustrating Kidjo's grand majesty.'
Kidjo's take on Remain in Light has been critically acclaimed not only for the way it draws out and expands on the original's African-inspired elements, but also for her ability to inhabit Byrne's sometimes obtuse lyrics and to shine a new light on them. Kidjo and Byrne are long-time friends and mutual admirers - Byrne joined Kidjo on stage at New York's Carnegie Hall to sing 'Once in a Lifetime' in celebration of the album – and it seems fitting that, more than 40 years on, Remain in Light has found renewed life in Kidjo's interpretation of it.
LINE - UP:
Angelique Kidjo - singer
Remain in Light