Angélique Kidjo – Morning Keynote Address

speaker-img-2Grammy award-winning singer, activist, and humanitarian Angélique Kidjo electrifies audiences around the world with the strength of her voice, the power of her words, and the intensity of her performance. Spirit Rising, Angélique’s memoir, embodies her vibrant personality with, as ELLE described, “a dramatic soulful mix of text, photos, and song lyrics.” One of The Guardian‘s 100 most inspiring women in the world, Angélique speaks out for human rights and female empowerment as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and through op-eds for CNN andThe New York Times. The Daily Telegraph’s “undisputed queen of African music,” Angélique comes from the West African country of Benin, where she began performing with her mother’s theater troupe at age 6. However, when Communists took over the country and challenged Angélique’s freedom of artistic expression, she fled to France, and later, New York City. Logozo, Angélique’s 1991 breakthrough album, a celebration of life, music, and Africa, topped the Billboard World Music Charts and sold more than 40,000 copies. Success followed her throughout the next 20 years with a Grammy win and sold out performances around the world, including Carnegie Hall. Alicia Keys, Bono, Peter Gabriel, and Philip Glass have all shared the stage and/or collaborated with her, and President Barack Obama has personally requested her to perform. Her 2014 memoir, Spirit Rising, includes a forward by Desmond Tutu and an introduction from Alicia Keys. Publishers Weekly praised the book and said,“readers will be enamored of this beautifully told tale of courage and determination, revealing an expansive life that proves ‘music has no color, no language, no boundaries.’” Angélique began her work with UNICEF in 2002 and has acted as a Goodwill Ambassador, raising awareness for such causes as gender equality, education, and conservation, ever since. For her tireless advocacy, she was presented with the Dag Hammarskjöld Inspiration Award. Through The Batonga Foundation, which Angélique founded in 2007, she provides secondary education to girls across Africa and empowers the female leaders of tomorrow. Throughout her career, Angélique has released 10 albums and has performed on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show, Sir David Frost, Christine Amanpour, and Bill Moyers have all interviewed her, and BBC has named Angélique one of Africa’s 50 most iconic figures.