Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo on why she hates the term ‘world music’

Angelique Kidjo in conversation with Christiane Amanpour | Image: CNN.com

This is because the musician believes that the musical sounds developed in Africa form the building blocks of all music. 

Speaking during a recent interview with CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour, Grammy-award-winning musician Angelique Kidjo reflected on a range of topics, including her move from Benin to France, her love for Celia Cruz, and how she’s raising money for Africa’s women entrepreneurs, but it was her take on why she hates the term “world music” that got tongues wagging.

Kidjo, who holds multiple Grammys in the world music category, explained how she believed that the musical sounds developed in Africa formed the building blocks of all music.

“It means that we haven’t learned yet that every music we have today comes from Africa. [Whether] you like it or not, that’s just a simple truth of it. it is true, everywhere you turn, as a musician, I have always found my continent in it and especially my country,” said Kidjo.

According to the musician, the blues genre comes from slave songs that originated among descendants of the continent, as did jazz music.

“So for me, music is just what we are. A mixture of what we are…From the beginning, we are mixed, there is no such thing as a pure race,” exclaimed Kidjo.

Building on a question Amanpour had asked earlier in heir discussion, Kidjo went on to criticise the concept of white supremacy stating that “supremacy” denoted a higher moral standing, the highest in fact, which the concept of white supremacy did not display.

“It cannot be killing people, it cannot be hating people. You’re talking about supremacy and hate? Those things do not go together… We tend to forget what is really essential, the core, of what we are as human beings and we tend to get distracted by other people’s misery.”

She went on to link that to the concept of slavery, which she believes is still being implemented in modern business.

“So for me as a musician, what I say to people is, we that come from that painful story, ‘how do we create a different narrative?’ ‘How do we show the world that, despite all the wrong that people have done to us?’ We are still human beings and we are still willing to create bonds between us.”

The musician stated that being a global ambassador for The United Nations Children’s Fund had also taught her that people could not live without each other and that was also the main message of music.

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