Angélique Kidjo Biography, Music Career, and Net Worth

Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo popularly known as Angélique Kidjo is a Beninese singer-songwriter, actress, and activist who was born on July 14, 1960 in Ouidah, Dahome. She is known for her many musical influences and creative music videos.

Kidjo was born into a family of entertainers and musicians. Her father was a musician, while her mother was a choreographer and a theatrical director in addition to her other jobs.

Profile Summary of Angélique Kidjo

 Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo
Born July 14, 1960, Ouidah, French Dahomey (now Benin)
  • Singer+songwriter
  • actress
Jean HHébrai
Musical career
  • Afropop
  • Afrobeat
  • reggae
  • world music
  • world fusion
  • worldbeat
  • jazz
  • gospel
  • Latin
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1982–present
  • Island
  • Mango
  • PolyGram
  • Columbia
  • Razor & Tie

Kidjo married French musician and producer Jean Hébrail in 1987. Their daughter Naima was born in 1993 in France

When she was featured in Time magazine in 2007, they dubbed her “Africa’s premier diva.” Angelique will perform at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on July 23, 2021, as part of the opening ceremony. On September 15, 2021, Time magazine named her to their list of the world’s most influential individuals, which featured the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

In addition to her childhood idols Bella Bellow and James Brown, she draws inspiration from the Caribbean zouk and Congolese rumba styles, as well as the music of Jimi Hendrix, Miriam Makeba, and Carlos Santana. Her musical influences include Afropop, Congolese rumba, jazz gospel, and Latin styles. Among the works she has recorded are “Summertime,” “Ravel’s Boléro,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child,” and the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” She has also worked with Dave Matthews and the Dave Matthews Band, Kelly Price, Branford Marsalis, Ziggy Marley, Philip Glass, Bono, Yo-Yo Ma, Carlos Santana, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Josh Groban, Dr John Kidjo’s hit songs include “Agolo,” “We We,” “Adouma,” “Wombo Lombo,” “Afirika,” “Batonga,” and her version of the song “Malaika.” She also has a number of other hit songs, including “Wombo Lombo.” She is ranked 37th on Vice magazine’s Thump website’s list of the Greatest Dance Albums of All Time, which was compiled by a team of dance music experts.

Besides Fon and French, Kidjo is also proficient in the Yorùbá language, as well as Gen (Mina) and English, among others. She sings in all of them, and she also has her own personal language, which contains terms that function as song names, such as “Batonga.” She sings in all of them, and she also has her own personal language of her own. “Malaika” is a Swahili song that is sung in the language of the same name. Kidjo frequently employs the traditional Zilin vocal style and vocalese of Benin.

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Angélique Kidjo Early life

Kidjo was born in the Beninese city of Ouidah. It is said that her father is descended from the Fon people of Ouidah and that her mother is descended from the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Growing up, she was influenced by traditional music from Yoruba and Beninese cultures, as well as artists such as Miriam Masekela, Hugh Masekela, James Brown, and Manu Dibango. She also enjoyed the music of Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti, as well as Stevie Wonder and Santana. Kidjo began performing with her mother’s theatre group when she was six years old, giving her a strong appreciation for traditional music and dance from an early age.

She began singing in her high school’s rock band, Les Sphinx, and achieved national recognition as a teenager with her cover of Miriam Makeba’s “Les Trois Z,” which was broadcast on national radio. She collaborated with the Cameroonian producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar to create her debut album, Pretty. It included the songs “Ninive” and “Gbe Agossi,” as well as a dedication to the singer Bella Bellow, who she considers to be one of her idols. Because of the album’s success, she was able to tour throughout West Africa. Because of ongoing political difficulties in Benin, she was unable to pursue her artistic career as an independent artist in her own country, which drove her to relocate to Paris in 1983.

She studied music at the CIM, a prestigious jazz school in Paris, while working various day jobs to pay for her tuition. It was there that she met musician and producer Jean Hebrail, with whom she has collaborated on the majority of her work and whom she married in 1987. She began her musical career as a backup singer in local bands. In 1985, she joined Jasper van ‘t Hof’s Euro-African jazz/rock band Pili Pili and rose to the position of lead singer. In the following years, Pili Pili released three studio albums: Jakko (1987), Be In Two Minds (1988, produced by Marlon Klein), and Hotel Babo (1989). (1990). By the end of the 1980s, she had established herself as one of the most prominent live performers in Paris, and she had made a solo album for the Open Jazz Label, titled Parakou. Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, ‘discovered’ her in Paris and signed her to the label the following year. She released four albums for Island Records between the time of Blackwell’s departure and her own. Columbia Records signed her to a contract in New York in 2000, and she went on to record two albums for the label.

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Angélique Kidjo Advocacy

Kidjo has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 2002. She has gone to a number of African nations on behalf of UNICEF. Detailed reports on her travels may be obtained on the UNICEF website for the following countries: Benin; Senegal; Ethiopia; Tanzania; Syria; Malawi; Uganda; Kenya; Sierra Leone; Zimbabwe; South Africa; and Haiti.

As a co-founder of The Batonga Foundation with Mary Louise Cohen and John R. Phillips, Kidjo aims to equip some of the most vulnerable and difficult to reach young women and girls in Benin with the knowledge and skills they need to be agents of change in their own lives and in their communities. Specifically, Batonga accomplishes this by identifying the most vulnerable adolescent girls in Benin and linking them to girl-centered safe spaces managed by Beninese female leaders. These safe spaces give young women and girls with training that allows them to develop new skills in financial literacy while also building social capital in a supportive environment.

She campaigned for Oxfam at the 2005 World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong, for their Fair Trade Campaign, and traveled with them to North Kenya and the border between Darfur and Chad with a group of women leaders in 2007. She also appeared in the video for the in My Name Campaign with Will, which was released in 2008.

She hosted the Mo Ibrahim Foundation’s Prize for Achievement in African Leadership in Alexandria, Egypt, on November 26, 2007, and on November 15, 2008, in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, on November 14, 2009, and in Mauritius on November 20, 2010. In Tunisia on November 11, 2011, she hosted the “Africa Celebrates Democracy Concert,” which was organized by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. She also sang at the Award Ceremony on November 12, 2011, which was also held in Dakar on November 10, 2012, Addis Ababa the following month, and Accra the following month.

“Africa for women’s rights” is a movement that Kidjo has been involved in since March 2009. The International Federation of Human Rights (International Federation of Human Rights) began this campaign (FIDH).

As part of the “Give the Gift of Life”[40] campaign to eradicate Tetanus, UNICEF and Pampers commissioned Kidjo to record the song “You Can Count On Me” in support of the campaign, which was released on September 28, 2009. Each download of the song results in the donation of a vaccine to a pregnant woman or a mother-to-be.

Angélique Kidjo, along with Jessica Biel and Peter Wentz, served as a LiveEarth Ambassador for the 2010 Run For Water events in Los Angeles.

To preparation for the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, Kidjo has created a video based on her song “Agolo” and photographs by Yann Arthus-Bertrand for the United Nations SEAL THE DEAL Campaign, in which she stars.

The African Union (AU) Commission announced on July 16, 2010, the appointment of Angélique Kidjo as one of 14 Peace Ambassadors to assist in the implementation of the 2010 Year of Peace and Security program. Kidjo is the first African woman to be named to the position.

She appears in the Sudan365: Keep the Promise film, which is intended to encourage support for the Darfur peace process.

In June 2010, she contributed the song “Leila” to the Raise Hope for Congo CD, which was produced by the Enough Project and Downtown Records. The proceeds from the compilation will be used to support efforts to make the protection and empowerment of Congo’s women a priority, as well as to motivate people all over the world to speak up for peace in the country of Congo.

When Kidjo worked with Forró in the Dark and Brazilian Girls on the single “Aquele Abraço” on the Red Hot Organization’s most recent humanitarian album, Red Hot + Rio 2, he received a Grammy nomination. The album is a follow-up to the 1996 album Red Hot + Rio, which was released in the same year. The proceeds from the sales will be used to promote awareness and funds for the battle against AIDS and HIV, as well as related health and social problems. In 2012, Kidjo collaborated with Questlove and Tune-Yards on a cover of Fela Kuti’s “Lady,” which was released by the Red Hot Organization.

During the month of September 2012, she was featured in a campaign called “30 Songs/30 Days” to raise awareness and funds for Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

Kidjo was the host of a night of celebration for the cultural legacy of Mali, which took place on February 18, 2013, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. Many Malian artists performed at the event, which was attended by thousands of people.

Kidjo met with First Lady Michelle Obama in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House on May 22, 2014, to discuss international girls’ education. The meeting took place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Kidjo was one of the endorsees of the People’s Climate March, which took place on September 21, 2014. Mary Robinson and she were among those who took part in the march in New York, and she was interviewed by Amy Goodman for Democracy Now.

Kidjo collaborated with a slew of other musicians on Band Aid 30, the 30th anniversary version of the 1980s supergroup, which was released in November 2014.

The ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for an open letter, which she signed in 2015. The letter was addressed to Angela Merkel in Germany and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in South Africa, and it urged them to prioritize women as they serve as the heads of the G7 and the AU in their respective countries, which will begin to set the priorities for development funding prior to the main UN summit in September 2015, which will establish new development goals for the generation.

Children’s singer Kidjo is a contributor to the Art Of Saving A Life Campaign, which was launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Her performance of Afirika during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on September 25, 2015, in support of the announcement of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, followed by a speech by Pope Francis and before Malala Yousafzai was broadcast worldwide.

Kidjo was named as the spokesperson for the AFAWA initiative (Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa) at the G7 Summit in 2019, which aims to close the financing gap for women entrepreneurs in Africa. The AFAWA initiative was launched by President Macron of France at the G7 Summit in 2019.

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Angélique Kidjo Net Worth

Angélique Kidjo has amassed a lot of fortune over the years due to her success in the music industry and has a net worth which is estimated to be 5 Million dollars.

The Batonga Foundation

Angelique Kidjo is a social activist who is particularly concerned with women’s and girls’ education. Her other accomplishments include serving as the United Nations Children’s Fund’s international goodwill ambassador and champion of various initiatives, as well as co-founding The Batonga Foundation. The foundation was founded by Mary Louise Cohen and John R. Philips in 2006 as a joint venture.

Essentially, it aims to provide young women and girls in Benin with the knowledge and skills they need to be agents of change in their own lives and communities, as well as in their wider society. It provides financial assistance to primary, secondary, and higher education institutions for girls in Africa. Also included are scholarships, secondary school construction, increased enrollment, and improved teaching standards, as well as the provision of school supplies, support for mentor programs, research into alternative education models, and advocacy for increased community awareness about the importance of education for girls.

The name Batonga was inspired by one of Kidjo’s songs, which was sung in Batonga. In addition, the program has a number of partnering organizations that support its goals and objectives.

Angelique Kidjo Albums

Angélique has played in a number of local and international concerts, including those at Carnegie Hall in New York City, the United Nations General Assembly, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and a number of other venues. She has also performed in front of celebrities and other high-profile persons from throughout the world. She has worked on a number of albums, hit songs, music videos, and soundtracks for television shows, movies, and documentaries, among other projects.

Her albums include;

  • Pretty, 1981
  • Parakou, 1989
  • Logozo, 1991
  • Aye, 1994
  • Fifa, 1996
  • Oremi, 1998
  • Black Ivory Soul, 2002
  • Oyaya, 2004
  • Djin Djin, 2007
  • Oyo, 2010
  • Spirit Rising, 2012
  • Eve, 2014
  • Sings with the Ochestre Philharmonique Du Luxemborg, 2015
  • Remain in Light, 2018
  • Celia, 2019

Angélique Kidjo Soundtracks

Kidjo also recorded songs for various movies, TV shows, and documentaries, among them:

  • Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls
  • Bimboland
  • Blood Diamond
  • Caro Diario by Nanni Moretti
  • Changing Times by André Téchiné
  • Krippendorf’s Tribe
  • Le Code A Changé by Danielle Thompson
  • The Lion King 2
  • My Favourite Season by André Téchiné
  • Pray the Devil Back To Hell
  • Sahara
  • Six Feet Under
  • Streetfighter
  • The Air Up There
  • The Truth About Charlie
  • The Wild Thornberrys Movie
  • Who Does She Think She Is
  • Without a Trace

Angélique Kidjo TV Shows

Kidjo has appeared on

  • Later with Jools Holland
  • Late Show with David Letterman in 2007
  • The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 2007
  • NOW with Bill Moyers in 2002
  • Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in 2003
  • CBS Early Show in 2007
  • Austin City Limits in 2015
  • She was interviewed by David Frost for Al Jazeera in 2008 and Christiane Amanpour for CNN in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
  • She appeared as “Aunt Angelique” in the “Pink Christmas” special of Neo Yokio in 2017.

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Angélique Kidjo Awards

Angelique Kidjo is a multi-award-winning singer-songwriter. She has received several local and international recognition. Some of them include;

  • Prix Découverte RFI SACEM (France, 1991)
  • Octave RFI (France, 1992)
  • Prix Afrique en Creation (France, 1992)
  • Danish Music Awards: Best Female Singer (Denmark, 1995)
  • Kora Music Awards: Best African Female artist (Africa, 1997)
  • Mobo Awards for Best World Music Act (UK, 2002)
  • Médaille De Vermeil De La Ville De Paris (France, 2004)
  • Africa-Festival Award (Germany, 2006)
  • SAFDA African Pride Award (South Africa, 2006)
  • Antonio Carlos Jobim Award (Canada, 2007)
  • N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for Outstanding World Music Album (USA, 2008)
  • Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album (USA, 2008)
  • Go Global World Music Award (Denmark, 2008)
  • Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic (Italy, 2008)
  • Commander of the National Order of Benin (Benin, 2008)
  • Making a Difference for Women Award from the National Council for Research on Women (USA, 2009)
  • Afropop Hall of Fame (USA, 2009)
  • Celebrating Women Award from the New York Women’s Foundation (USA, 2009)
  • Premio Tenco Prize for her entire singing career (Italy, 2009)
  • On May 8, 2010, Kidjo was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by Berklee College (USA)
  • Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2010)
  • Grand Prix Des Musiques Du Monde De La Sacem for her entire songwriting career (France, 2010)
  • Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary World Music Album (USA, 2011)
  • Prix Special de la Francophonie (Washington DC, USA, 2011)
  • Champions of the Earth Award (United Nations, 2011)
  • BET Awards nomination for Best International Act: Africa (USA, 2011)
  • Miroir Awards for World Music of the Festival d’été de Quebec (Canada, 2012)
  • Trophée Des Arts, FIAF French Institute, Alliance Française (New York, 2012)
  • Keep A Child Alive’s Award for Outstanding Humanitarian Work, shared with Oprah Winfrey, (New York, 2012
  • On May 25, 2014, Kidjo was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts by Middlebury College (USA)
  • On June 4, 2014, Kidjo received the Arms Around The Child Award along with Jez Frampton during The Other Ball event in London hosted by Mark Ronson with Lily Allen, Florence and the Machine, Blood Orange and Rudimental
  • On October 28, 2014, Kidjo was awarded the Chair Citation by The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists at the United Nations in New York. Past recipients include Bob Woodruff and Nicholas D. Kristof
  • On December 27, 2014, in Lagos, Nigeria, Kidjo won two All African Music Awards (AFRIMA): one for Best Contemporary Artist, one for Best Female Singer from West Africa.
  • Kidjo is the recipient of the 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum of Davos in Switzerland
  • On January 28, 2015, Kidjo was awarded the Visionary Leadership Award by the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album, on February 8, 2015; Kidjo won her second Grammy Award for “Eve”, a tribute to the continent’s women.
  • On February 9, 2015, Kidjo won the International Mappie Award given by the M-Magasin in Stockholm, Sweden
  • On May 6, 2015, Kidjo was awarded the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award in New York by Synergos. Past recipients include Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, Jennifer and Peter Buffett, Mo Ibrahim
  • On May 18, 2015, Kidjo was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by Yale University (USA)
  • On October 6, 2015, Kidjo was awarded the Impact Award by the Population Council organization along with Elisabeth J McCormack.
  • Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album, on February 15, 2016; Kidjo won her third Grammy Award for her 2015 album, Sings.
  • Kidjo is the recipient of the 2016 AllAfrica Leadership Award
  • She has received the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International in 2016
  • On June 23, 2016, Kidjo was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of Merit of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg by Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
  • On July 15, 2017, Angelique has received the Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role from the African Movie Academy Awards for her role in Kunle Afolayan’s movie, The CEO.
  • November 16, 2017, Angelique Kidjo received the prestigious “Grand Prix Des Musiques Du Monde” from the Académie Charles Cros for her entire career, in conjunction with the release of the French version of her memoir “La Voix Est Le Miroir De l’Âme”
  • On February 24, 2018, Angelique Kidjo received the Charles de Ferry de Fontnouvelle Award from the Lycee Francais De New York. The following month she was added to the 2018 OkayAfrica 100 Women list. The organizers cited her talent and activism in making the award.
  • On June 14, 2018, Angelique received the Prix De L’Artiste Citoyen 2018 from the Adami [fr], the French society of performers.
  • On October 21, 2018, Angelique Kidjo received the first World Pioneer Award during the Songlines magazine Music Awards 2018 ceremony at Electric Brixton in London. She sang a duet with Fatoumata Diawara backed by Mokoomba during the finale of the evening.
  • On December 7, 2018, Angelique received the German Sustainability Award along with Richard Gere and Rea Garvey. The award is endorsed by the German Federal Government, local and business associations as well as numerous NGOs, among them UNESCO and UNICEF. The German Sustainability Award was established in 2008 to encourage the acceptance of social and ecological responsibility and to identify role models in this area.
  • Angelique was awarded the 2019 Dutch Edison Award for her career in the Jazz and World category
  • On June 13, 2019, Angelique was awarded the Musicultura Unimarche Prize by the Universities of Macerata and Camerino in Italy which is awarded to Italian and international personalities who have distinguished themselves in their careers for high artistic merits.
  • Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France, 2019)
  • 2020 Distinguished Artist Award from the International Society for the Performing Arts. Past recipients include Isaac Stern, Arthur Rubinstein, Audra McDonald, Bill T. Jones, Peter Brook, and many more.
  • On January 27, 2020, Angelique won the Grammy for Best world music album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards
  • On February 4, 2020, UCLouvain University gave an Honorary Doctorate to Angelique Kidjo along with Nuccio Ordine and François Taddei
  • Kidjo’s Grammy nominations include the Best Music Video of 1995 and Best World Music Album for works completed in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2014 2015, 2019, and 2020.
  • Kidjo is the 4th laureate of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award (2007). Created in 2004 on the 25th anniversary of the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, each year the award is given to an artist distinguished in the field of world music whose influence on the evolution of jazz and cultural crossover is widely recognized.
  • On November 24, 2020, Kidjo was included in the 2020 BBC 100 Women list. The list compiles “the most inspiring and influential women in the World in 2020” 
  • On January 1, 2021, Angelique was awarded the Legion of Honor, the highest French award of merit along with Roberto Alagna and Yann Arthus Bertrand
  • On September 15, 2021, Time magazine included Angelique in their Time 100 list.
  • March 2022, Forbes Woman Africa Entertainer Award.
  • On April 3, 2022, Angelique’s Mother Nature wins the “Best Global Music Album” at the 64th Grammy award.

Angélique Kidjo Recognitions

  • Africa’s premier Diva, Time Magazine, 2007
  • 50 Most Iconic figures on the continent, BBC Africa, 2010
  • One of the Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in art film, music, and fashion The Guardian, 2011
  • First woman among the 40 Most powerful Celebrities in Africa, Forbes Magazine, 2011
  • The Undisputed Queen of African music, Daily Telegraph, 2012
  • Africa’s greatest living diva, National Public Radio (NPR), 2013
  • Most Influential Africans, New African Magazine & Jeune Afrique, 2014
  • 100 most influential women, Forbes Afrique, 2015

Angélique Kidjo Honorary Doctorates Degree

The following institutions have honored Kidjo with an honorary doctorate degree;

  • Yale University
  • Berklee College of Music
  • Middlebury College
  • UCLouvain University

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