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Angelique Kidjo

I've always said that next to New York, the Bay Area has the most diverse and deep live music programming.  Cal Performances often rivals SF Jazz for improvised and world music performers.  The other week Angelique Kidjo came to Zellerbach.  I've seen her many times, and she is always inspirational.  Born in Benin, and forced into exile, like her mentor Miriam Makeba, she is a symbol of freedom and emancipation.  Influenced deeply by Benin culture, and pop, rock, Latin, and jazz, she is a cross cultural icon who overtly calls her audience to liberation, enlightenment, and unity.  I've often described her as an African Female James Brown, but that doesn't really do her justice.  With just Dominic James on guitar, Magatte Sow on percussion, the Brazilian Itaiguara Brandao on bass, and New Yorker Daniel Freedman on drums, she creates a huge, beautiful world music orchestra that is impossible not to dance to.  And dance the audience does, including the ritual packing of the stage for the last few numbers.  And as commanding a stage presence as she is, it is her voice that has made her world famous.  She has a huge range, and can sail over a band like Santana's guitar (with whom she has recorded and performed).  She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, and has founded the Batonga Foundation to provide African girls with secondary and higher education.  To see her in performance is to become, if only for an evening, a true citizen of the world.