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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 14, 2008

2008 Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo performs in Hancher

World music star and human rights activist Angelique Kidjo, fresh from her triumph in Contemporary World Music category at the 2008 Grammy Awards, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 6, in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

Hailing from Benin, Kidjo travels the world as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and she has become a spokesperson on African child-labor issues and an advocate for the children who have been drugged, kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers in African wars.

She will discuss these problems in two free events:

--4 p.m. Wednesday, March 5, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol, co-sponsored by the UI Center for Human Rights.

--7 p.m. March 5 in Celebration Hall of the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center of Iowa at 55 12th Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids. Learn more about the Cedar Rapids event at

Her Grammy winning recording, "Djin Djin," was Kidjo's fifth album to be nominated for a Grammy. It features guest artists including Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana, Josh Groban, Branford Marsalis, Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone and Ziggy Marley. Gabriel says, "Her spirit is irrepressible, and she brings life to everything she touches."

"I'm proud to be an African artist because I come from Africa and African music has been the biggest influence on me," Kidjo says. "But I'm also a world musician in the true sense of the term."

As a child, Kidjo was mesmerized by an iconic album cover of Jimi Hendrix, which led her to follow the African roots of music from the United States, Brazil and the Caribbean. The results -- combining Afropop, Afrobeat, reggae, gospel and Latin influences -- were the Grammy-nominated trilogy of albums, "Oremi," "Black Ivory Soul" and "Oyaya."

With "Djin Djin" (pronounced "gin gin"), Kidjo returned to the soul of Benin, but with a marriage of cultures reflected in her line-up of all-star guests. Inspired by the traditions and culture of Benin in West Africa, the title of the album refers to the sound of the bell that greets the beginning of a new day for Africa.

"It was important to me that all of these great musicians come with me back to my roots," Kidjo says. "I've never compromised those roots because I know my identity, and I've learned that in order to give through music, you have to position yourself among other individuals who may be from different cultures and background and then find ways to discover that we're actually not different at all."

Conflicts in her home country prompted Kidjo to relocate to Paris in the early 1980s, and by the end of that decade she had become one of the most popular singers in the city. She then relocated to New York, where, in February of 2003, she performed Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" at Radio City Music Hall with Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy and Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid. That performance became part of Martin Scorsese's documentary "Lightning In A Bottle: One Night In The History Of The Blues."

Last year, in addition to touring with Josh Groban's "Awake" show, she contributed her version of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" to the CD "Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur." Bono of U2 has described Kidjo as the galvanizing voice of sub-Saharan Africa.

Before winning the 2008 Grammy she was honored with the awards including the Prix Afrique en Creation, Best Female Singer in the Danish Music Awards, Best African Female Singer in the Kora Music Award and the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award.

The March 6 Hancher concert, part of a tour that stretches from the U.S. West Coast to Eastern Europe, is supported by George and Lois Eichacker; and Mark and Leslie Nolte, Nolte Academy of Dance, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets are $35/32/29; UI student $31.50/15; senior citizen $31.50/28.80/26.10; youth $24.50/22.40/20.30.

The Hancher Auditorium business hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 319-335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial 319-335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Tickets may be ordered online at

Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Kidjo's management:; direct email:; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),