Angelique Kidjo: Meet the famous Beninese singer-songwriter who beat Nigerian Burna Boy at the 2020 Grammys

Angelique Kidjo dedicates her Grammy Award to Burna Boy in touching speech
  • On January 26, 2019, Nigerian music star Burna Boy lost out in the World Music Album category of the 2020 Grammys to Angelique Kidjo.
  • It was Burna Boy's first Grammys nomination with his fourth album 'African Giant' and the Beninese music icon's fourth win at the award ceremony which was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
  • Business Insider sub-Saharan Africa shares a couple of interesting things to know about this legendary female artist.

Nigerians all over the world were hopeful after Burna Boy got his first Grammys nomination with his fourth album 'African Giant' in 2019.

He was nominated in the Best World Music Album category alongside Altin Gün for Gece, Bokanté & Metropole Orkest Conducted By Jules Buckley for What Heat, Nathalie Joachim With Spektral Quartet for Fanm D'Ayiti, and Angelique Kidjo for Celia.

The Nigerian artist lost to Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo, popularly known as Angélique Kidjo.

Here is everything you need to know about this 2020 Grammy winner:

Origin story

Kidjo was born in Ouidah, Benin on July 14, 1960, to a Beninese father and Yoruba mother. The singer-songwriter, actress, and activist started performing with her mother's theatre troupe when she was only six.

She started to become successful after her adaptation of Miriam Makeba's "Les Trois Z" played on national radio. This happened when she was a teenager.

Next, she recorded the album 'Pretty' with the Cameroonian producer Ekambi Brilliant and her brother Oscar. She became more famous when she started touring all over West Africa performing songs from this album.

Political conflicts in her home country, Benin, forced her to relocate to Paris in 1983 where she recorded her first album for Island Records.

Upon its release worldwide in 1991, it reached number one on the Billboard World Music chart. The following year, she made her first world tour, appeared at many festivals and headlined the Olympia Hall in Paris.

The singer, who is fluent in five languages including French, Yoruba, and English, has gone on to release over 10 albums since then.

Career highlights

Throughout her successful career, Kidjo has many great moments. Here are some of them:

She has had nine Grammy nominations, the first came in 1995. Her first win was in 2007 in the Best Contemporary World Music category.

The second was in the Best World Music Album category in 2014 and 2015 for the albums Eve and Sings respectively.

Kidjo is the recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award.

She has performed with several international orchestras and symphonies including the Bruckner Orchestra, The Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and the Philharmonie de Paris.

Time Magazine has called her "Africa's premier diva," while the BBC included her in its list of the continent's 50 most iconic figures.

Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa and CNN has her as the first woman featured on the 2019 CNN list of Africa’s Biggest Music Stars.

2020 Grammy win

After beating Burna Boy, Kidjo dedicated her win to the Nigerian artist. During her acceptance speech, she said, "This is for Burna Boy, [he] is among those young artists [who] came from Africa [who] are changing the way our continent is perceived, and the way African music has been the bedrock for every [type] of music."

"The new generation of artists coming from Africa are going to take you by storm, and the time has come," she added.

The two collaborated on "Different," a standout track from his hit album African Giant.

Kidjo's fourth Grammy win is for her album Celia which pays homage to the late Afro-Cuban singer Celia Cruz.


Outside the music, Kidjo has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She has also founded The Batonga Foundation to empower vulnerable and hard-to-reach young women and girls in Benin.

She is passionate about campaigning for women's rights in Africa and climate change.

Personal life

Kidjo is married to French musician and producer Jean Hébrail. The two tied the knot1987. They have a daughter named Naima.


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