A Grammy Award–winning Beninese singer/songwriter’s heartfelt memoir, co-authored by Wenrick, about her life as a musician and human rights activist.
Kidjo began her career in entertainment at age 6, when her mother pushed her onto a theater stage and told the little girl to sing. Terrified, the author quickly overcame her fears and realized that she had arrived “home.” The singer began performing with her older brothers and immersing herself in music not only from Benin, but also Togo, France and the United States. Her great artistic awakening came a few years later after she heard Miriam Makeba singing on the radio. The legendary South African singer’s “magical [and] uplifting” voice inspired the young Kidjo to become “just like her.” After high school, Kidjo became a popular solo performer in both Benin and neighboring Togo, but her growing fame also brought her and her family under the scrutiny of an increasingly totalitarian Beninese government. At 23, she fled to Paris, where her path eventually led her to le CIM, the school for jazz. Kidjo pursued her interests in fusions that merged jazz, which fellow students told her “[wasn’t] for Africans,” with traditional African lyrics and rhythms. Her artistic boldness caught the attention of Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, who had discovered such world music icons as Bob Marley and U2. Like most of Blackwell’s protégées, Kidjo also achieved international recognition. Yet it was only after she began doing humanitarian work in Africa for UNICEF that she was finally able to act on her long-standing need to give back to a land that had “given [her] so much.” Richly illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs, Kidjo’s work celebrates one woman’s courage to use her musical gift “to empower people all over the world.”
Warm, lively and compassionate.