Angelique Kidjo brought an international dance party to the Lowcounty on Thursday night.
The Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter from Benin, Africa, told the audience at the TD Arena that she was here to dance, have fun and celebrate life.
Dressed in a festive pant suit and headdress, Kidjo started her set with a mid-tempo song in French accompanied by guitarist Dominic James and bassist Itaiguara Brandao. The audience sat quietly enjoying her vocal talent. It’s in the slow- to mid-tempo songs that the beauty and elegance of Kidjo’s voice is evident.
After she performed three songs, she removed the headdress and addressed the audience. “Everywhere I go, I bring my continent with me,” she said. “So, I want you all to join in with me. I want all of us to have fun tonight!”
From there, the audience became more engaged, dancing, clapping, and waving hands. One group formed a dance circle to the right of the stage and kids collected on the left side. Throughout the night, more and more people joined in the fun.
During her set Kidjo would stop to explain the significance of her songs, most of which were in French. One was dedicated to her mentor and role model, Miriam Makeba, and to her father, who started her career. Another, “Petite Fleur,” was a melancholy and somber tune dedicated to girls who’ve suffered abuse.
Kidjo, who is also a prominent rights activist and founder of the Batonga Foundation, peppered her set with messages encouraging people to love one another, respect differences and embrace life.
To close the night, Kidjo and her band got the whole crowd on its feet. She invited audience members on stage to dance. Percussionist Magatte Sow played solos while Kidjo pulled certain people to center stage for dance solos.
“Life is too short to be so secure,” Kidjo said. “You’ve got to go to the edge and just have fun.”
Chrsitina Riley is a Goldring Arts Journalist from Syracuse University.