It’s a blistering cold Sunday evening in Minnesota, but within the lobby of the Ordway Centre for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul, there is a warmth flowing through the chatter and excitement amongst the hundreds waiting to get tickets to the Angelique Kidjo concert. I have never been to the Ordway before, though countless times I’ve dreamed of dressing up and joining the many who come for Operas and concerts. Now here I am, standing in this beautiful, red carpeted, high ceiling, brightly lit lobby, ticket in hand.
My friends and I walk up the spiral stairs to the mezzainine floor where we are ushered into the auditorium amidst loud applause for Angelique Kidjo. We get comfortable as she introduces her next song. Most of the songs will be from her new album ‘Djin Djin’, she says in a french-beninese accent. She signals and the drummer starts to play the drums. Angelique dances with vigor and life before she begins singing. Her beautiful voice resonates in the filled auditorium accompanied by the guitars and percussion instruments. Up on the balcony, there are fans dancing to the music and song, but none can match up to the rythmic movement of Angelique’s shoulders, torso, hips and legs as she dances from one end of the stage to the other. When the song comes to an end, there are screams, ululations as people applaud and cheer the perfromance. Song after song, Angelique is entertaining and captivating keeping with the momentum and high in energy. Between the perfrormances, she shares inspirational words on humanity, peace. love and she fondly speaks of Africa.
Angelique Kidjo, began her music career at a very early age in Benin where she was born. Years later she relocated to Paris where her love and appreciation for music continued to grow and diverse. Through her music career, Angelique has released ten CD’s, she’s had numerous collaborations with various artists, has been nominated for four Grammys and won many International awards.
Angelique takes a break and leaves the stage to her band – the electric, acoustic, bass guitarists, percussionist and drummer – who individually perform to the excited auditorium. Back on stage, Angelique performs a couple more songs before she calls on her fans to join her in dance to her next song. Kids and grown-ups walk down the aisle to the stage and once the music begins, bodies are shaking, swaying, jumping and bumping happily together. The rest of us stand and dance by our seats as we clap along to the song. The whole auditorium is filled with so much cheer and joy, that once the concert comes to an end, everyone calls out for more. Angelique obliges her fans with one last song, then bows and exits the stage.
The concert comes to a complete end after she signs autographs and takes pictures in the lobby with her many fans. Angelique Kidjo was quite an entertaining performer, and for a first concert at the Ordway Centre for performing arts, there was no better way for me to do it.
Her new CD ‘Djin Djin’ which was released May last year, features artists like Josh Groban, Alicia Keys, Ziggy Marley, Amadou and Mariam amongst other artists.