Chart-topping world music superstar Angélique Kidjo cross-pollinates the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk, and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America. She makes her Moss Arts Center debut on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m., with a performance filled with recent hits and classic, danceable favorites.

Co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center and the Office for Inclusion and Diversity, the performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

A creative force with 13 albums and multiple Grammy Awards to her name, Kidjo’s stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. She released her latest album, “Mother Nature,” in the summer of 2021, following the 2019 Grammy-winning “Celia,” which explores the African roots of Cuban-born celebrated salsa singer Celia Cruz. Kidjo’s 2018 radical reimagining of Talking Heads’ landmark album “Remain in Light” offered a refreshing  perspective, reinterpreting classic songs with electrifying rhythms, African guitars, and layered backing vocals.

“It doesn't matter how hard the subject is, make it danceable,” Kidjo told NPR. “Bring people to the table to have a discussion. Open doors that are closed. If you have the gift of song, if you're an artist, whatever arts you touch upon, empower yourself to be able to empower other people.”

Her star-studded album, “Djin Djin,” won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Album in 2008, while her album, “OYO,” was nominated for the same award in 2011. In January 2014 her first book, a memoir titled “Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music,” and her album, “Eve,” were released to critical acclaim. “Eve” later went on to win the Grammy Award for Best World Music Album in 2015, and her historic orchestral album, “Sings with the Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg,” won a Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2016. Kidjo has gone on to perform this genre-bending work with several international orchestras and symphonies, including the Bruckner Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Philharmonie de Paris.

The BBC has included Kidjo in its list of Africa’s “50 most iconic figures,” and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their “Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World.” Forbes Magazine ranked her as the first woman in their list of the “Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa,” and she received the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum, the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the 2018 German Sustainability Award.

Kidjo travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF and OXFAM goodwill ambassador, and she has created her own charitable foundation, Batonga, dedicated to support the education of young girls in Africa.

This performance is supported in part by a gift from Elizabeth Hahn and  Douglas Chancey.

Free public talk, “Rise Up: Music and Human Rights with Angélique Kidjo”

Kidjo has committed her life to advocacy. In the free talk “Rise Up: Music and Human Rights with Angélique Kidjo,” she speaks to the role and power of the arts in the global struggle to secure human rights for all. Co-sponsored by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Celebration, Office for Inclusion and Diversity, and Black Cultural Center, the event will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre.

Ticket information

Tickets for the performance are $25-55 for general public and $10 for Virginia Tech students. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is required to attend this performance. Masks are required at all times for patrons, visitors, and staff regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at the Moss Arts Center. More information about these requirements is available on the Moss Arts Center website.

Paid parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Virginia Tech has also partnered with ParkMobile to provide a convenient, contactless electronic payment option for parking, which may be used at any parking meter, campus parking space, or lot with standard F/S, C/G, or R parking.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jonathan Boulter at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours.

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