Benin-born singer and songwriter Angelique Kidjo rose to fame in Africa as a teenager and became an international star with a Grammy win for the album “Djin Djin.” Yet before she achieved worldwide renown, Kidjo struggled to obtain what many in the developed world take for granted — access to education. But her parents somehow managed to send her — and her nine other brothers and sisters — to school, which Kidjo credits as one of the main factors in her success. “I am the person I am today because my mom and dad believed in education,” she says.
When she isn’t busy recording with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Alicia Keys, and Dave Matthews, Kidjo focuses her considerable energy on raising awareness of the importance of educating children, particularly girls. She was appointed UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador in 2002 and is on the board of directors of Batonga, a non-profit organization that has helped hundreds of girls to attend schools in Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Benin, Cameroon, and Mali. Her musical talent and passion for the issue of global education made her a natural fit to collaborate with WIDE ANGLE on its Time For School series. She initially became involved as a global education expert in the second episode of Time for School, and has since lent her extraordinary voice to the film series.
WIDE ANGLE visited Kidjo in her studio in Brooklyn during a recent recording session. Click the video below to hear the Grammy-winning singer at work.