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Grammy win for Angelique Kidjo & Luxembourg's Philharmonic Orchestra
Culture & Life

Grammy win for Angelique Kidjo & Luxembourg's Philharmonic Orchestra

2 3 min. 16.02.2016 From our online archive
Angelique Kidjo, one of Africa's most prominent musicians, won her third Grammy on Monday, this time together with Luxembourg's Philharmonic Orchestra under well known Luxembourg musician Gast Waltzing.

(ADW/AFP) Angelique Kidjo, one of Africa's most prominent musicians, won her third Grammy on Monday, this time together with Luxembourg's Philharmonic Orchestra under well known Luxembourg musician Gast Waltzing.  Kidjo dedicated the "Best World Music Album" award to aspiring artists on the continent of Africa.

The Beninese-born singer won the Grammy for her album "Sings," a collection of her songs infused with Western classical traditions in a collaboration with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg and Gast Waltzing.

I want to thank the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the arranger, conductor Gast Waltzing

This is the second straight year that Kidjo has won the Best World Music Album prize, after last year's "Eve" that paid tribute to African women. The song "Awalole" on that album was also arranged by Waltzing and performed by OPL.

A visibly happy Kidjo, dressed in a colourful African dress, ran to the stage to accept the award and danced to James Brown's "I Feel Good," performed by a pit orchestra.

"I want to thank the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, and the arranger, conductor Gast Waltzing", began Kidjo in her acceptance speech. "He had a vision that African music can meet classical music. This is what music is about; to bring doors and bridges and wars down". 

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She continued, "I want to dedicate this Grammy to all the traditional musicians in Africa, in my country, to all the young generation," Kidjo said.

"Africa is on the rise, Africa is positive, Africa is joyful," she said.

"Let's get together and be one with music, and say no to hate and violence," she said to applause.

The album merges African song writing and rhythms with European classical instrumentation, played on the album by OPL, a fusion on which Kidjo has repeatedly experimented.

Kidjo described the album as an artistic challenge as traditional African bands follow the lead of the soloist much more closely, unlike Western orchestras that generally play off refined scores.

Kidjo, who is based in New York and plans another concert at Carnegie Hall in the upcoming season, said she was open to further work with artists of other genres.

"I work with everyone who believes that music is the tool of peace. For me, music is the only form of art that connects the entire world," stated after accepting the award.

'Open-minded' awards

Kidjo has long worked with Philip Glass, one of the leading living US composers. 

Glass notably worked with Kidjo on music set to three poems from Yoruba mythology.

Collaborators on "Sings" include not only classical musicians from Luxembourg including Gast Waltzing, but the bassist Christian McBride, who separately won his latest Grammy on Monday in the category of Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

Kidjo hailed the Grammys as being increasingly open-minded.

"What astounds me more and more is the openness of spirit by the Grammys compared with other events," she explained.

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"They are showing musical diversity to the rest of the world," she said. "What is great at the Grammys is to have people who aren't only into commercial things."

The artist with the most nominations at Monday's Grammys is Kendrick Lamar, whose album "To Pimp a Butterfly" has been hailed for its meditative look on the state of black America.

"Sings" beat out a highly innovative Grammy nominee from Africa -- an album by Malawi's Zomba Prison Project.

The three others in contention for the World Music Grammy were all previous nominees -- sitarist Anoushka Shankar, Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil and South Africa's Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

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