PAVIA, Italy — Angelique Kidjolique Kidjo is a dazzling singer from Benin, born on July 14, 1960. She’s famous for being one of the most exhilarating and electrifying performers in the contemporary music scene and also a true original with a creative spirit. Angelique’s goal has always been to unite people across cultures through her music, fusing elements of her home country’s rich heritage with influences from funk, jazz and samba.
Grammy Award Season
Angelique Kidjo’s reputation as a talented artist has only continued to soar, especially during Grammy award season. With 14 Grammy nominations since 1995, she truly made a mark in the industry when she won her first Grammy in 2008. She continued to impress the world by winning the Best World Music Album in 2015, 2016, 2020 and 2022. And the good news is, she’s not slowing down – in 2023, she’s up for even more Grammy wins for Best Global Music Album and Best Song Written for Visual Media for the movie “The Woman King.”
Connecting with Young People
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo went back to her beloved country Bénin in December 2022 to connect with the young people and children that the harsh realities of violence from the Sahel crisis and the effects of climate change in the region harshly affected.
The security situation in Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Niger is getting worse and it’s affecting access to crucial services for children, refugees and internally displaced persons in northern Benin. Sadly, due to the impact of climate change, food prices are rising, leading to difficulties in accessing essential services. As a result, in some border regions with Sahel countries, many schools have had to close temporarily and child malnutrition has increased. Moreover, health centers are struggling to maintain operations. Sadly, local welfare authorities have reported a rise in domestic violence, gender-based violence, and violence against children.
Promoting Girls’ Education
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter is famous for advocating for children’s rights and promoting girls’ education through her work with UNICEF and the Batonga Foundation. On her trip to Benin, she visited the Zakpota school’s accelerated program in Zakpota town, which offers educational opportunities to adolescent girls who have never gone to school or have dropped out. The program teaches the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic in just three years, allowing students to earn a primary study certificate in half the time it would normally take.
During her week-long trip, Angelique Kidjo met with heroes at the front of care. She talked with teachers, nurses, health workers and social workers who provide essential services to children and their families. Kidjo also met amazing adolescent girls, kids and young people who are making a difference in their communities. She also stopped by a nutrition center in Tanguiéta and saw first-hand how health workers and mothers use local ingredients to make nutritious food for malnourished children. She was inspired to see how UNICEF’s supply of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) – a nutrient-packed peanut-based paste – is saving these children’s lives.
Fierce Champion for Children’s Rights
Angelique Kidjo recently went back to her roots in Benin to mark 20 incredible years as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. As a fierce champion for children’s rights, she has traveled the world to support UNICEF’s efforts. In 2017, she joined forces with seven of Benin’s greatest musical talents to write a song calling for an end to child marriage, according to Look to the Stars. In 2020, she recorded a powerful new version of Miriam Makeba’s “Pata Pata,” a song known for its joyful defiance, to raise awareness about preventing COVID-19. This mission with UNICEF is her first since the pandemic hit.
Angelique Kidjo’s visit to Benin in December 2022 was a true testament to her unwavering commitment to children’s rights and her role as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. From meeting with frontline workers to visiting a nutrition center, Kidjo showed her passion for making a difference in the lives of children and families. Her efforts to raise awareness and call for an end to child marriage, and her contribution to spreading awareness about preventing COVID-19, demonstrate her tireless advocacy for children’s rights. It’s inspiring to see such dedication and commitment to improving the lives of others, and Kidjo’s visit to Benin is a reminder of the positive impact one person can have when they use their voice and platform for good.
– Frida Sendoro