Grammy award-winning artist Angelique Kidjo returns with an album titled ‘Oyo’ set for release on Febraury 9th, 2010. Oyo is Kidjo’s tribute to music that transformed her in her native country Benin, West Africa.
Although Oyo is primarily comprised of covers, the music is instantly recognizable as Kidjo’s: The first thing one hears at the outset of the album is her breathtaking voice, long-sustaining the first word of “Zelie,” a song written by Bella Bellow from Togo. There are various other African songs, including “Lakutshn Llanga,” a lullaby made famous by Kidjo’s hero, Miriam Makeba, and the Beninese traditional song “Atcha Houn.” Many tracks reveal the prevalence of American soul and funk in the port city of Cotonou, where Kidjo grew up: She duets with John Legend and is joined by the horns of Antibalas on Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up,” offers Yoruban interpretations of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” and Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti,” collaborates with Diane Reeves on the Aretha Franklin hit, “Baby I Love You,” and also takes on James Brown’s “Cold Sweat.” Other highlights include the Sidney Bechet tune “Petite Fleur,” a favorite of Kidjo’s father, who passed away last year, and “Dil Main Chuppa Ke Pyar Ka,” the theme song of a Bollywood film they saw together some ten times.
Recorded and mixed by Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, The Roots, Erykah Badu) and produced by Kidjo and longtime collaborator Jean Hebrail, Oyo features a band of highly accomplished musicians, including another Benin-born, New York-based artist, the guitarist Lionel Loueke, as well as Christian McBride on upright bass, Kendrick Scott on drums and Thiokho Diagne on percussion. The trumpeter Roy Hargove makes a memorable appearance on “Samba Pa Ti.”
Oyo comes on the heels of Kidjo’s Djin Djin, which featured performances by a roster of eminent artists who admire her: Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone, Branford Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Ziggy Marley and Amadou & Mariam, to name just a few.
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