Angélique Kidjo Explores the Afrobeat Roots of Celia Cruz

“You don’t even understand how big salsa is in Africa,” the Beninese star mentions in a new interview about her Celia Cruz tribute album.

There’s always been a special musical conversation between West Africa and the Caribbean. This newly-released album sees two legends from opposing of the Atlantic ocean come together for a striking marriage of afrobeat and salsa.

The recently released record follows Beninese diva Angélique Kidjo as she pays tribute to one of her lifelong musical idols, Celia CruzThe album sees Kidjo expertly stripping down, covering and reinterpreting ten songs from Celia’s legendary catalog to showcase the vast array of African influences on the salsa classics.

Below we spoke with Kidjo to learn more about her new tribute record, Celia.

What made you want to start covering Celia Cruz?

Well, it started with the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival three years ago. They asked me to play and I said I have a project, I would like to pay tribute to Celia Cruz.

Celia has been one of those artists in my life that really makes the stage the paradise of happiness. It’s amazing to see her on stage with her smile, that constant smile with that gap in those teeth. It’s just beauty on stage. It’s life.

So I decided was going to pay tribute to her because I’d been having this conversation—”should I? shouldn’t I?”—with my friend Dianne Reeves. And Dianne kept on telling me, “you’ve got to, because there’s so many things you have in common with Celia, your joy of life, I think you should do it.” So I was like, okay, to hell with it I’m going to do it. Continue reading…

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