Angelique Kidjo: I was pretty excited, too.
So, I'm at this Hunger Project
fundraiser at the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan (about which I've written here
), and who should be sitting at my table but the luminous Angelique Kidjo
, African music superstar (she's from Benin
) and now living in Brooklyn.
I leaned over the asparagus and beans starter and told her how much I loved her music
. She very graciously replied, as she must have to a zillion times a day to every besotted fan, that she appreciated that. Everyone on the table, of course, asked her if she was going to sing, if not for her supper at least for the 1,200 people attending, and she said that, no, tonight was a chance for the Liberians to sing.
Well, I don't know if the band was tipped off to her presence, but it launched into a bluesy version of "Malaika,"
a traditional East African melody that has now morphed into a pan-African love song sung by African women throughout the continent, and which Angelique has made her own for the past two decades. We looked at Angelique, and she looked at us, and very softly, she sung a few bars in her perfectly pitched and luminiscent voice. The other African women at our table joined her. When she was done, we applauded, and she smiled. It turned out that Angelique had been wrong. It was a night for all
women across Africa to sing. And that was as it should be.