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Angélique Kidjo

Singer, Activist and Humanitarian

Three-time Grammy Award-winning singer, activist and humanitarian Angélique Kidjo electrifies audiences around the world with the strength of her voice, the power of her words and the intensity of her performance. Spirit Rising, Kidjo’s memoir, embodies her vibrant personality with “a dramatic soulful mix of text, photos and song lyrics.” One of The Guardian’s 100 most inspiring women in the world, Kidjo speaks out for human rights and female empowerment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and through op-eds for CNN and The New York Times.

Kidjo’s career began in the West African country of Benin, where she would perform with her mother’s theater troupe at age 6. However, when the communist takeover of Benin threatened her artistic expression, she fled to France and later New York City.

Twelve albums and three Grammys later, she has sold out Carnegie Hall, has topped the Billboard charts, has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Bono and Philip Glass and has been personally requested to perform by then-President Barack Obama. Her success and talents know no bounds.

“I work with everyone who believes that music is the tool of peace,” Kidjo said. “For me, music is the only form of art that connects the entire world.”

Her 2014 memoir, Spirit Rising, includes a forward by Desmond Tutu and an introduction from Alicia Keys. Publishers Weekly called the book “a beautifully told tale of courage and determination, revealing an expansive life that proves ‘music has no color, no language, no boundaries.’”

With UNICEF, Kidjo raises awareness for such causes as gender equality, education and conservation. Celebrating her exceptional courage in standing up to injustice, Amnesty International has honored Kidjo with The Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Inspired by the high value her father placed on schooling, she founded the Batonga Foundation in 2007, providing secondary education for girls across Africa and empowering the female leaders of tomorrow. Opening the 2015 World Economic Forum at Davos, Kidjo received the Crystal Award, which honors individuals who improve the state of the world through art.

She has conducted interviews with Sir David Frost, Christine Amanpour and Bill Moyers, and recently she co-starred in the Nollywood movie The CEO directed by one of Africa’s most acclaimed filmmakers.