Many albums from many artists have taken inspiration from the sounds and rhythms of Africa, Paul Simon‘s Graceland took inspiration from South Africa, but another classic album, Remain In Light by Talking Heads was influenced by West Africa, notably Nigerian musician Fela Kuti’s afrobeat.
On their forth studio album Talking Heads experimented with African polyrhythms, funk, and electronics, recording instrumental tracks as a series of looping grooves.
Move forward nearly 40 years and global pop star and 3-time Grammy winner Angélique Kidjo has partnered with super producer Jeff Bhasker (production credits include Rihanna, Kanye West, Harry Styles, Bruno Mars, Drake, Jay-Z) to create Remain In Light – a new project that finds the Benin-born artist reclaiming the music for Africa, bringing the Talking Heads landmark 1980 album full circle. The record is a track-by-track re-imagination of the original, considered to be one of the greatest albums of the 80s.
With her version of Remain In Light, Angélique celebrates the genius of Talking Heads and the touchstones that made the original so revered and injects it with her euphoric singing, explosive percussion, horn orchestrations, and select lyrics performed in languages from her home country. Remain In Light features appearances by Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Blood Orange, Tony Allen, Antibalas Horns, Angélique’s longtime guitarist Dominic James, and Magatte Sow (percussionist for the Black Panther film score). Visual artist Kerry James Marshall collaborated on the album artwork.
This spring and summer, Angélique will be touring extensively, including special Remain In Light performances in Los Angeles and London.
Kidjo’s perspective brings renewed urgency to themes including the empowerment of women on The Great Curve and African skin bleaching on Seen And Not Seen, elsewhere suffusing tracks with rhythms from traditional Beninese folk songs, also working lyrics from Kela Kuti’s Lady into her re-work of Born Under Punches, which was directed by Jeff Bhasker and conceptualized by Kerry James Marshall.
“As Remain In Light was influenced by the music of my continent, I want to pay back the homage and create my own African take on Talking Heads’ songs,” Angélique told us. “We all know that rock music came from the blues and thus from Africa. Now is the time to bring rock back to Africa, connect our minds, and bring all our sounds to a new level of sharing and understanding.”
This album is the culmination of Angélique’s deep-rooted love and respect for the original: she performed it in full at Carnegie Hall last year to raves with the New York Times declaring, “Ms. Kidjo isn’t toppling an icon; she is dancing on its heights” … and was joined by David Byrne on stage.
She has just released a video for the lead single, Once In A Lifetime, from the album…..
Angélique Kidjo is not only known for her visionary music but also for her wide-ranging activist efforts. She is a three-time Grammy winner whom NPR has called “Africa’s greatest living diva.” Angélique has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Bono, Carlos Santana and countless more, and her Ifé project found her performing three all-new Phillip Glass compositions in the Yoruba language.
Angélique travels the world advocating on behalf of children in her capacity as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador while her charitable foundation, Batonga, is dedicated to supporting the education of young girls in Africa. The Guardian has named Angélique one of its Most Inspiring Women in the World.
Remain The Light is released on 8th June on by Kravenworks Records
Read the live review of the Angélique Kidjo Royal Festival Hall concert here: https://rockshotmagazine.com/209818/angelique-kidjo-renews-remain-in-light-live-royal-festival-hall/