Benin Grammy-Award Singer Angélique Kidjo wants girls to dream big

Time Magazine calls her 'African Premier Diva." For Benin Grammy-Award singer Angélique Kidjo, her work goes beyond the successful musical career. This UNICEF goodwill ambassador desires to see the future generations, particularly girls, to become the best they can be. 

Angelique Kidjo (Photo:

Angélique Kidjo is an African icon who does not need anymore introductions. In 2007, Kidjo released an album titled Djin Djin, which refers to the sound of a  bell in Africa that greets each new day.

For three weeks, the album Djin Djin occupied the number one spot on the World Music Chart of Billboard Magazine, Kidjo's official website reports. The album won the Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music album at the 50th Grammy Awards. 

In 2010, Kidjo sang at the official kick off concert of the 2010 FIFA World World Cup held in South Africa. BBC named her one of the 50 African icons from the past half century to mark around the 50 years of African dependence.  Despite her busy touring schedule, Kidjo finds time for causes that are closed to her. Along with Mary Louise Cohen and John Philips, she founded The Batonga Foundation, whose mission is to support education for girls in Africa. 

When girls look at me, I don't want them to see the "celebrity" that I'm.  I want them to see a person who has stood up for herself, with the help of her family. And I want them also to believe that it's allowed to dream big and to give wings to those dreams to become true," Kidjo said.  "The way to do that it's not simple. It can be painful. You go from failures to successes. You stumble and you stand up.  I want young girls to think that tomorrow is an opportunity to change and to go to another direction."

Angelique Kidjo (Photo :
In an open letter to the girls of the world , Kidjo shares her introduction to music and the passion for girls' education. The letter was part of the 'Girl Rising' project that featured courageous girls and the power of education. 

In the letter, Kidjo described how she discovered her role model and South African singer Miriam Makeba through the song "Pata Pata." Miriam Makeba was also actively in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Most importantly, she told girls: "Don't let anyone define who you are!"

"Even though at home I could see the respect that my father had for my mom, I could feel the world was unbalanced and that it was so hard for girls and women to succeed," Kidjo said. "Many of my girlfriends at school were dropping out at an early age as the social pressure was huge. Most of them could not choose their own destiny. It was as if they would always be the daughter, the wife or the mother of someone."

Listed as one of the 100 most inspiring women in the world by The Guardian, Angélique Kidjo continues to share her African heritage around the world through her strong  beautiful voice and her fun dance moves. Like her role model Miriam Makeba, Angelique Kidjo is now a well-established source of inspiration for millions of girls and young women.

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