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Interview with icon-slash-legend Angelique Kidjo

Angelique Kidjo
Fabrice Mabillo
Cheryl Duncan & Company, Inc.
Angeliqu Kidjo is a multi-grammy winning musician and social activist. A new documentary called “Queen Kidjo” was just released.

Over the dozen-plus years of cranking out weekly World Music Shows for VPM and WCVE, I've been fortunate to be able to interview a slew of musicians, producers and writers.

Some of these interviews landed on my lap by luck, either by dogged PR people or musicians — which I prefer, because they’re really trying to get heard and are fun and engaging to talk to.

Other conversations heard on the show, came from me being the squeaky wheel via email or social media, because I really wanted to interview a specific someone — like Sebastian Krys, producer for artists like Gloria Estefan and Elvis Costello.

Well on this weekend’s World Music Show, my interview with the legendary Angelique Kidjo is a conversation I’ve been trying to land for years. I’ve been playing Kidjo’s music since the show started — and it’s not just because it’s fantastic. It’s because with each new release, her energy, her rhythms and messages of all of us being human are just so inspiring.

Plus, Kidjo is an artist who loves covering other musicians work, such as her entire re-imagining of Talking Heads Remain in Light, her interpretation of Ravel’s “Bolero” and her cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” If you tune into the show, you know how much I love cover tunes.

Kidjo 2
Cheryl Duncan & Company, Inc
Cheryl Duncan & Company, Inc
A still image from the new documentary Queen Kidjo

Besides her love of doing cover tunes, there’s her entire library of collaborations — from working with giants like Dr. John, Brandford Marsalis, Sting and Dianne Reeves to newer ones, with Burna Boy, Yelma Alade and Ghetto Boy on her recent “Mother Nature” release, that are also just incredible tracks to hear on rotation.

Because of her stature as an artist, the new documentary Queen Kidjo was put out as part of “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” program — partnered with Black Public Media, World Channel and American Public Television. It’s streaming on those platforms now.

The documentary examines her long career, her parents, her social activism and her musical mentors all of which we discussed in our conversation.

Our chat was short due to time constraints so even though it’s an easy listen, she packs a lot of her history into our talk.

Queen Kidjo

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.