Grammy-winning artist Angélique Kidjo is one of the biggest names in African music, and at 53, she’s still moving at the speed of light. Her latest album, Eve, is out Tuesday and includes collaborations with some fellow stars: Kronos Quartet, the Luxembourg Philharmonic and Dr. John.
Eve also showcases the voices of women from Kidjo’s home country of Benin, and the opening track, “M’baamba,” features women she met on a trip to Kenya as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. She says that in one village in particular, the singing that greeted her on arrival was so impressive that she ran over and started singing along.
“I mean, God knows what they were saying! I don’t speak the language, I don’t understand the language; I just jumped in,” Kidjo says. “After that, I had a vision. The song that I had been writing, before, was already about women’s issues. So I was like, ‘This is it. I want the world to hear these beautiful voices and feel the same shiver that I felt.’ ”
Kidjo spoke with All Things Considered guest host Kelly McEvers about the making of Eve and about her new memoir, Spirit Rising, released earlier this month. Hear their conversation at the audio link.