Out of Africa

Hailing from the West African nation of Benin, genre-bending vocalist Angélique Kidjo has spent the better part of the past 20 years away from her home continent yet maintains her status as one of Africa's most visible luminaries. It's quite telling that even though Kidjo's latest album, Õÿö, consists largely of cover tunes by Western artists such as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, and Otis Redding, she still transports listeners back to Benin — albeit Benin as seen through a young Kidjo falling in love with R&B. A tribute to the music that inspired her early on, the new album also touches on the work of legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba, traditional Beninese music, and songs from Bollywood and Hollywood. Even with other people's material, Kidjo demonstrates her usual expertise in weaving styles into a heavily jazz-inflected sound that is unmistakably her own.
Fri., March 5, 8 p.m., 2010

 
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