In 1983, just as her star was on the rise, the luminous multilingual singer Angélique Kidjo fled her home country of Benin for Paris to escape political turmoil. In the years since, she has not only brought African traditional music into a contemporary context and given it a pop music glow; Kidjo has also brought attention to women’s rights, cultural preservation, and sustainable development with her radiant and commanding voice. Her work has never been more compelling as it is on Remain in Light, her full-length repatriation of the 1980 landmark album by U.S. art-rock band the Talking Heads.
In the late 1970s, Talking Heads co-founder David Byrne and the band’s producer, Brian Eno, took inspiration from Afrobeat, the energetic and fiercely political music associated with Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. That sound served as Remain in Light’s rhythmic framework to which the Talking Heads added elliptical lyrics and angular guitars. Not long after leaving Benin, Kidjo fell in love with Remain in Light; now she takes these songs back home, reconnecting the album’s African elements with their source material. Kidjo adds horns that embolden the original melodies and choirs that give Byrne’s fragmented words deeper meaning. Unveiled at Carnegie Hall in 2017 and released in 2018, Kidjo’s Remain in Light is a spectacular reassertion of Africa’s rich and vast musical legacy.
“Africa’s greatest living diva.” — NPR
“An indomitable performer with an electrifying voice.” — The Guardian
“Kidjo wasn’t toppling an icon; she was dancing on its heights.” — The New York Times
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