“Africa’s premier diva” (Time magazine), Angélique Kidjo, brings the party to Zellerbach Hall on Saturday, November 17 at 8:00 p.m., performing selections from her newest album Spirit Rising (2012) as well as other favorites. The album “has an amazing party atmosphere” (Groove Guide), and the audience should be prepared to dance in their seats. A “dynamic and unstoppable” (The New York Times) musician who has performed around the world, Kidjo is known for her unique blend of Afropop, jazz, gospel, Latin and tribal music. Accompanying her for the evening are musicians Dominic James (guitar), Daniel Freedman (drums), Magatte Sow (percussion) and Itaiguara Brandao (bass). In addition to her performing and songwriting, she uses her global renown to advocate for human rights as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and was named one of The Guardian’s Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World.

Growing up in the West African nation of Benin, Angélique Kidjo began performing in a band with her eight siblings at age six. She became lead vocalist in the Kidjo Brothers Band at age 11, and soon incorporated influences from many cultures, including rhythm-and-blues, soul and American rock ‘n’ roll into the group’s repertoire. Kidjo’s stage presence and spectacular singing propelled the band to local fame, and success spurred her to begin writing music in her mid-teens. While in school, Kidjo formed a group called Les Sphinx and recorded a solo album, Pretty, which made her a household name throughout West Africa.

The political situation in Benin prompted Kidjo to move to Paris in 1983; there, she studied jazz and began to mix Euro-pop, funk and electronica into her music. She also attended law school and considered a career as a human-rights lawyer. She married composer and bassist Jean Hebrail and moved to New York City in the late 1980s, and she has been based in the United States ever since.

Kidjo newest album Spirit Rising was recorded live in Boston in June 2011 and features collaborations with Dianne Reeves, Branford Marsalis, Christian McBride and Josh Groban, among others; it was released in February 2012. She has won five Grammy Awards in the category of Best Contemporary World Music. In 2010, she was granted an honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music and has recently been awarded the prestigious Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the France Ministry of Culture.

She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a Live Earth Ambassador for the 2010 Run for Water, a series of 6 K runs that helped increase awareness of the global water crisis. Kidjo formed the Batonga Foundation in 2007 to support education for girls in Africa. The foundation’s website is For more information visit


Tickets for the Angélique Kidjo on November 17 at 8:00 p.m. and in Zellerbach Hall start at $22.00, and are subject to change. Tickets are available through the Ticket Office at Zellerbach Hall; at (510) 642-9988; at; and at the door. Half-price tickets are available for UC Berkeley students. UC faculty and staff, senior citizens, other students and UC Alumni Association members receive a $5.00 discount (Special Events excluded). For select performances, Cal Performances offers UCB student, faculty and staff, senior, and community rush tickets. For more information about discounts, go to or call (510) 642-9988.

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