What a pleasure and honor to review OYO, the new cd of my good friend, Angelique Kidjo, which is being released this week in the USA. On this beautiful cd, she returns to her roots to interpret the music that inspired her growing up in Benin, before she fled the communist dictatorship in the early 80’s. She is joined by Bono, John Legend, Diana Reeves and other well known artists on some of the tracks. Although the cd is primarily composed of covers, Angelique definitely leaves her imprint with her amazing voice and interpretations of the songs. One of my favorite songs on it is her interpretation of a South African classic, Mbube, made famous by Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte in the 60’s. She also covers songs by James Brown (Cold Sweat), Aretha Franklin( Baby I love you), Curtis Mayfield (Move on Up), Santana (Samba Pa Ti), African classics and even a theme song from a Bollywood film she saw many times as a kid with her father. The record is a tribute to her father who passed away last year and was a big influence on her.
Oyo is a truly diverse collection reflecting how eclectic her tastes are and how unique her interpretations of these songs are too. Her songs rove across boundaries, genres and ethnicities, finding the connections that link musical forms from every part of the world, while still bonding closely with her own traditions. I highly recommend it.