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Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About Finding Her Identity Through Black Music on The Message on Apple Music 1



On a special Black Music Month episode of The Message on Apple Music 1, Grammy Award-winning Beninese superstar Angelique Kidjo joins Ebro Darden to discuss finding her identity through Black music, the importance of learning from each other’s stories, her educational foundation for African women, and more. The Message is a series that aims to further the dialogue about the unrest and inequalities in the United States and abroad via intimate conversations with some of the most prominent voices in Black music today, who also create exclusive playlists of the songs inspiring them to keep pushing forward.

Video and key quotes from the episode are below — feel free to use and credit Ebro Darden on Apple Music 1. Listen to the episode in-full HERE.

Video | Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About Finding Her Identity Through Black Music on The Message on Apple Music 1

Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About Finding Her Identity Through Music…

“My identity as a Black person, being aware of what it is to be Black come from music. The first time I heard the word ‘slave descendant,’ it was when I heard my brother playing Jimi Hendrix…I was like, ‘By the way, who’s this guy? What language is he speaking in? He looks African to me.’ That’s when my brother said, ‘He’s African-American.’ I said, ‘Come on. How can you be African and American at the same time?’ I was nine years old. Then I learn and throughout the year, suddenly at 15, I heard about apartheid in South Africa.” Then, my world just collapsed.”

Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About The importance of Learning From Other People’s Stories and History…

“We could have saved so much time, and be so much impactful if you have known each other’s story. I didn’t know anything really much deeply as I know now about the Civil Rights movement in America, until I arrived in America. And I can tell you that the youth in Africa still don’t know it. And for me, it’s urgent for us to learn our own history. Because if we don’t know it, we are still at danger of being fooled again.”

Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About Collaborating With Burna Boy on “Do Yourself”…

“When I listened to the song, it was such a beautiful song that I was just thinking musically to accompany his voice and to be with him in song. So I sent the first version of the song, and then he said, ‘Ma, I need you more. I need your voice more.’ I send the second version. He said, ‘I need your voice more.’ And I said, ‘You want me to Angelique Kidjo the song?’ And he said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s what you’re going to get.’”

Angelique Kidjo Tells Apple Music About The Batonga Foundation…

“A mother pulled me aside and told me, ‘Angelique…if our girls finished primary education and they’re not in secondary education, they’re going to end up having the same fate we have. Being married early and bearing children at a very early age. And then the future is done. So what are we going to do about secondary education?’ It was not in the mandate at that time of the UN. So I take upon myself to create Batonga and I’ve seen many experts talk to many people. Everybody told me, ‘Angelique, this is just a dead end because the rate of dropout of girls in secondary education is too high. You’re going to fail.’ And I look at people, I say, ‘Well, if it’s easy, why bother?’”

Angelique Kidjo Shares Her Message…

“I grew up in a household where my dad and mom always used to say to us, ‘You cannot come back here and say you failed because you’re Black because that is something like that doesn’t exist. Success or failure has nothing to do with your skin color, is when you let people drag you into only reducing you to the skin color that you fail.’ I took that literally, and I hit the world stage. Every time they throw my skin color at me, I give them a big smile. I say, ‘Okay. Well, I’m Black. I’m proud of it. Can we have a conversation right now? Can we get to business?’”


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