From Africa to France to America, Angelique Kidjo has a singing career that has bridged three continents. She began in her native Benin in West Africa, then moved to Paris and finally, Brooklyn. Kidjo's 13th album "Eve," is dedicated to the women of Africa. Our reviewer, Banning Eyre, has been listening.


BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: That's Yvonne Kidjo, Eve for short, singing a song she taught her daughter Angelique years ago in Benin. Kidjo named this album for her mother got her to sing on this song, "Bana," which says value people over money. If you don't have money, Kidjo told me, you still have your life. Be somebody. Do something.


EYRE: Song after song, this CD offers encouragement to the women of Africa. Lift yourselves up. Marry who you love. Fight oppression. When Kidjo sings about these things, she does it with fire in her belly and funk in the groove.


EYRE: This album started when Kidjo was swept into a group of singing women in Kenya. She worked a phone recording of that moment into a song, and then decided that women and women's voices should define the whole CD.


EYRE: Later, she took her basic tracks to Benin, traveling its width and breadth, and recording nine different choral groups to back up her own lead vocals. On "Eve," Kidjo sings in four different Beninese languages, Fon, Gur, Mina and on this song, Yoruba.


EYRE: Kidjo told me it wasn't always easy fitting these women's choirs into her sophisticated pop sound. "Are you kidding?" one group asked after hearing the track. "Do you really think we are going to sing that?" "I'll teach you," Kidjo replied. She also put a few non-African musical guests through their paces.

This song, "Ebile" celebrates the pride parents take in their children. It's built around a tricky percussion groove from Benin and those strings you hear working to keep up, that's the Kronos Quartet.


EYRE: The women of Africa endure sometimes brutal conditions and face huge challenges. But Angelique Kidjo believes with a passion that a better future awaits them. Kidjo's great gift is to pour what could so easily be anger and frustration into songs that uplift and inspire us and she's done that again with "Eve."

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at He reviewed "Eve" by Angelique Kidjo. All this week, you can listen to her new album at

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