Angélique Kidjo earned the 5th Grammy Award this year with her new album Mother Nature by becoming the artist with the most wins in the Global Music Category ever.
With 14 albums to her name, Kidjo’s music is a combination of the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk, and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America.
The 62-year-old singer is one of the greatest African artists in international music that is still full of passion to bring her art to the world.
She recently released Queen of Sheba on Spotify with Ibrahim Maalouf from Lebanon. In an exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA from Paris, Kidjo says she is right now, in a moment where “things are blooming in her inspiration zone”.
However, when she won, Angélique Kidjo was in total panic as she was not expecting to win. She says that the competition was tough and that being nominated was already a great honor for her.
“For me, each nomination is [proof ] my work is out there. People are paying attention to what I do. When I won, I was humbled and didn’t know what to do…”.
Kidjo notes that for her to win a Grammy is not only her work. She is hardworking but gives credit to people that come and share their talent with her.
The album Mother Nature features some of Africa’s young superstars such as Mr. Eazi, Yemi Alade, and Burna Boy among others.
The Beninese say their professionalism is mind-blowing and argues that these kids have the right to do whatever they want.
“They sat back and learned from my experience, and the experiences of Youssou N’Dour, and Salif Keita. And they don’t want to take that road.”
She learned from that experience of working with young African superstars that they want to be free in their own right and that they have the right to be free.
However she believes that they have to learn that to last, they need discipline.
“When you say you have got to deliver, you have to deliver. Because when you come from Africa, it’s a double tragedy, because they expect you to be late, they expect you to do a job that isn’t good, everything goes against you.”
Looking back to her career that started when she became a star in her home country of Benin at the age of 21, she says that her culture is something that has empowered her the most.
By age 20 she was a professional singer and recorded her first album Pretty in 1988. The now five-time Beninese Grammy Award winner believes that there’s not one music that you don’t find in Africa.
“It does not exist”, the 62-year-old singer told FORBES AFRICA.
Kidjo argues that one of the most important things she has learned from her musical journey is that people live in Africa without knowing and realizing the power of African culture.
“We have ruled the music on the planet”. People can say no to it, but it’s okay.
“That fact is never going to disappear. Because we are all from Africa – homo sapiens came from Africa.”
As an artist who aims to build cultural bridges, her mission is to show people all over the world that we have one music but also that we are one unique humanity.