ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO EXPLORES THE AFRICAN ROOTS OF THE QUEEN OF SALSA, CELIA CRUZ, ON CELIA (APRIL 19/VERVE)
March 8, 2019
FEATURES TONY ALLEN ON DRUMS, MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO ON BASS, SONS OF KEMET, GANGBÉ BRASS BAND
On April 19, Angélique Kidjo will release Celia (Verve/Universal Music France), an album that honors Celia Cruz, widely known as “the Queen of Salsa” and the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century. On Celia, Angélique explores the African roots of the Cuban-born Cruz and reimagines selections from Cruz’s extraordinary career in surprising new ways, infused with an explosion of sounds and rhythms from Cuba, Africa, the Middle East, America and beyond. The album includes performances by Tony Allen (Fela Kuti) on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, and British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchins plus his band Sons of Kemet.
As a child I saw Celia Cruz sing in Benin and her energy and joy changed my life. It was the first I was seeing a powerful woman performer on a stage. Her voice was percussive and her songs resonated in a mysterious way with me. Many years later, I learned she was singing the Yoruba songs that were carried out of Benin 400 years before. I felt she was a long lost sister from the other side of the world. Like me, she experienced exile from a dictatorship and she was always proud of her roots, of her African roots. In the same way I wanted to bring back Rock and Roll to Africa with my Talking Heads’ Remain In Light project, I now want to pay homage to this incredible voice and those songs that reunite with their juju and Afrobeat roots.
Celia was recorded in New York and Paris, produced and arranged by David Donatien and mixed by Russell Elevado (D’Angelo, Kamasi Washington). Angélique is joined by a host of musicians including Tony Allen and Meshell Ndegeocello, who appear on a number of songs, plus her longtime guitarist Dominic James, the Gangbé Brass Band from Benin, British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchins as well as his Sons Of Kemet trio, and more.
Over the course of 10 beloved songs from Cruz’s extensive catalog but with special focus on her work from the 1950s, Angélique’s voice soars in lockstep with a grand presentation of rhythmic touchstones that delve deep into the history of music from Africa and it’s influence on the music of Cuba. Each song celebrates this idea – from the tight afro-beat groove of “Baila Yemaja,” the high octane take on “Quimbara,” the frantic energy of “Bemba Colora” to “Oya Diosa,” a lushly orchestrated ballad.
Celia Cruz was born in Havana in 1925 and left Cuba for the U.S. when Fidel Castro took power in 1959. She joined Tito Puente’s orchestra in 1966, and her recordings for the Fania label helped to construct the legacy of salsa music. Cruz released over 60 albums, 23 of which went gold. Her image was featured on a commemorative U.S. postage stamp, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts, and won 6 Grammy Awards in addition to the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award.
Angélique Kidjo has been recognized as one of the world’s 100 most influential women by The Guardian and dubbed as “Africa’s Premiere Diva” by Time magazine. Her last release, 2018’s radical reimagining of the Talking Heads album Remain In Light was deemed “transformative” by The New York Times, “visionary” by NPR Music and “one of the year’s most vibrant albums” by The Washington Post. It led to a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, an interview with David Byrne on the New Yorker Radio Hour and more. In November she performed at the World War I Armistice Centenary at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, in front of some 70 dignitaries and heads of state.
Angélique will tour various projects through 2019 and she will open for Vampire Weekend at Madison Square Garden on September 6.
‘Celia’ track list:
2. La Vida Es Un Carnaval
4. Baila Yemaja
5. Toro Mata
8. Bemba Colora
9. Oya Diosa
Mar 8 – Sydney, AU – Sydney Opera House (Remain In Light)
Mar 10 – Adelaide, AU – WOMADelaide (Remain In Light)
Mar 16 – New Plymouth, NZ – WOMAD NZ (Remain In Light)
Mar 23 – Boise, ID –Treefort Music Festival (Remain In Light)
Mar 27 – Burghausen, DE – Wackerhalle (Sing The Truth)
Apr 3 – Burlington, VT – Flynn Center (Remain In Light)
Apr 6 – Savannah, GA – Savannah Music Festival (Remain In Light)
Apr 8 – Durham, NC – Carolina Theatre (Remain In Light)
Apr 11 – Kingston, NY – Ulster Performing Arts Center (Remain In Light)
Apr 12 – Princeton, NJ – McCarter Theatre Center (Remain In Light)
May 9 –London, UK – Southbank Centre (Lodger Symphony)
May 11 – Stavanger, NO – Stravanger Konserthus
May 12 – Trondheim, NO – Byscenen
May 14 – Paris, FR – Bataclan (Celia)
May 17 – Aix-en-provence, FR – Grand Theatre de Provence (Celia)
May 22 – Luxembourg – Philharmonie Luxembourg (Sings! symphonic show)
May 25 – Coutances, FR – Jazz sous les Pommiers
May 28 – Bergen, NO – Grieghallen (Remain In Light)
Jun 1 – San Antonio, TX – Jo Long Theatre
Jun 8 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Bowl (Celia)
Jul 6 – Kongsberg, NO – Kongsberg Jazz Festival (Sing The Truth)
Jul 9 – Stuttgart, DE – Jazzopen (Sing The Truth)
Jul 13 – Northampton, MA – Green River Festival (Remain In Light)
Jul 14 – Lowell, MA – Boarding House Park (Remain In Light)
Jul 19 – Pori, FI – Pori Jazz (Remain In Light)
Aug 2 – Crozon, FR – Festival Du Bout Du Monde (Celia)
Sep 6 – New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (supporting Vampire Weekend)
Mar 14 – New York, NY – Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium