Live Earth: Pop Star Angelique Kidjo

African singer Angelique Kidjo is one of the more than 150 artists who performed in the Live Earth concerts around the world. The Grammy-nominated artist discusses why she participated in the cause for environmental awareness.

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(Soundbite of music)

Ms. ANGELIQUE KIDJO (Singer, Songwriter): (Singing) Lay, lay, lay, lay, lay, ah-ee, lay, lay, lay, lay, lay, ah-ee, lay, lay, lay-o.

MARTIN: You're hearing the music of Angelique Kidjo, one of the more than 150 artists who performed in Live Earth concerts around the world this weekend. Kidjo performed in Johannesburg, South Africa. Originally from Benin in West Africa, Kidjo's musical talent has earned her four Grammy nominations. Her most recent album, "Djin Djin," was released last spring. She joins us now from her hotel in Milan, Italy. Welcome. Thanks for speaking with us.

Ms. KIDJO: Thanks for having me with you.

MARTIN: Why did you want to perform for Live Earth?

Ms. KIDJO: I've been concerned about this earth, because I'm somebody that was raised in the nature. And I've had a lot of respect for it way before we started even talking about, I mean, green power and so on and so forth. In 1993, I wrote this song for this Mother Earth called Agolo. This song Agolo was when I was saying please, pay attention to Mother Earth. If we treat her correctly and with dignity, she's going to carry us long way, and the next generation, too. And without this earth, there's no me. There's no you. There's no radio station. There's not TV station. There's no singing. There's nothing. There's no life.

MARTIN: Why Johannesburg?

Ms. KIDJO: Because in Africa, we poor countries from Africa are going to be the one that pay the huge price if mother nature starts striking left and right. Because we don't have the money to fight it, to prevent anything to happen. That's why we have to do Live Earth in Johannesburg, to start talking to people for them to start doing a little bit of an effort in their daily life to teach the farmer how to save what they have, how to prevent what they have to disappear when the drought come. I was in the north of Kenya two years ago, and I've seen the devastation that the drought caused to the pastoral group and to the farmer and to the people. When you see a child eight years old that look like a child of three or four years old, what do you say to that child? How can you look at yourself in a mirror and say I can't do nothing, when you know that you can still do something?

MARTIN: What do you say to those who would argue that, you know, Africa - as you've pointed out - is already burdened with so much? With poverty, AIDS, you know, conflict - some would argue is there really any way that people can prioritize the green movement right now, when they have so many other things to worry about?

Ms. KIDJO: I mean, those things that we are worrying about would not be a worry today if, during all those years, the rich countries haven't ripped off Africa from every resources that they have. Do you know that at this time, as we're speaking, there is a (unintelligible) that is needed compulsory in the (unintelligible) that is found only in the Democratic Republic of Congo? When people are shifting that out, millions of (unintelligible), and people are dying from it.

MARTIN: How, then, do you tell these countries that they cannot then proceed to develop their own industries, when they haven't benefited from the development that's taken place so far? Do you see the dilemma?

Ms. KIDJO: Yeah, the dilemma - if you don't put the money on the right way to do it, you can push the African country to develop their own structure by using the environmental friendly product in industry.

The development program that the rich country have had to go toward that instead of the classical way of doing business in Africa. Because if people are educated today in a different way of living and proving to them that this different way of living is going to give a future to your children, people will follow you. If you want to help Africa develop, start doing those little things.

MARTIN: I'm speaking with four-time Grammy nominated singer and songwriter Angelique Kidjo about her Live Earth performance this weekend in Johannesburg. Angelique, what do you think that a concert like Live Earth would accomplish or will accomplish?

Ms. KIDJO: As far as I'm concerned, I've heard a lot of people coming to me and said the concert has drawn our attention to the Earth problem, and we went online and find out what we can do in our daily life to make a difference. If, from that concert, we have one percent of the people that today start doing something - recycling correctly the garbage, thinking about how they can diminish the use of gas and electricity, shrinking the bulbs in the houses -for me, it's already a victory. Doing nothing won't change anything. And if we do no nothing, we're going to have another Katrina.

MARTIN: Is there anything that you learned from this weekend or in your preparations for this concert that you will incorporate into your own behavior that will help you to reduce your carbon footprint or to be more environmentally conscious?

Ms. KIDJO: In my house, for example, in New York, I recycle everything. I change all the bulbs already way before they start talking about it and put the new bulbs that are needed everywhere in my house. And when I travel, in my hotel room, I leave no lights on and I don't change my sheet.

If I stay two nights somewhere, I'm going to use the same bed sheet and I'm going to use the same towels. And I don't let the water run. I've been doing this for years now. Since 1993, I've been doing this. And what I want to implement in my life after all this is to start doing green. I mean, no plastic. I'm going to ask (unintelligible), no plastic forks, no plastic spoon and knife or plastic cups in my dressing room anymore.

MARTIN: All right. Well, thank you so much for speaking with us.

Ms. KIDJO: You're welcome.

MARTIN: Angelique Kidjo was one of the performers at Live Earth this weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

Ms. KIDJO: You're very welcome.

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