Angélique Kidjo is a three-time Grammy-winning musician and activist from Benin; for more than a week, all I have listened to is her tribute to Talking Heads' 1980 album "Remain in Light," an album so great I bought tickets to see Kidjo perform it live about ten seconds after hearing it.
Kidjo is moving from strength to strength, with a forthcoming Afrobeat album called "Celia," which pays tribute to Cuban diva Celia Cruz, the "Queen of Salsa." It comes out on April 19, and judging from Quimbara, the preview track, it's going to be astounding (Rolling Stone: "The track boasts all-star backing courtesy of legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello and Benin, Africa's Ganbge Brass Band. On the Celia rendition, Kidjo infuses the sound of West Africa into the song popularized by the Cuban-born Cruz.").
I also somehow missed the fact that Kidjo recorded an album in tribute to Nina Simone in 2009: "Sing the Truth."
"'Quimbara' is the first song of Celia Cruz that I ever learned in Benin, West Africa where I grew up," Kidjo said in a statement.
"The vocals were so acrobatic and it was a beautiful challenge for me. Many years later when I met Celia backstage in Paris before one of her concerts, I started to sing it and she said: 'please, come join me on stage for Quimbara, we'll sing it together.' That was one of the highlights of my musical life in Paris!"
Hear Angelique Kidjo Pay Tribute to Celia Cruz With 'Quimbara' Cover [Daniel Kreps/Rolling Stone]