Tony Allen, Meshell Ndegeocello, David Donatien, Shabaka Hutchings
& Sons Of Kemet And The Gangbé Brass Band
1 CUCALA 3:19
2 LA VIDA ES UN CARNAVAL 4:33
3 SAHARA 4:37
4 BAILAYEMAYA 2:54
5 TOROMATA 4:30
6 ELEGUA 3:06
7 QUIMBARA 4:34
8 BEMBA COLORA 3:44
9 OYADIOSA 3:27
10 YEMAYA 1:37
Angelique Kidjo reflects on an icon of the Americas, celebrated salsa singer Celia Cruz. Over ten tracks, Kidjo’s album Celia divests itself of the glamour to investigate the African roots of the Cuban-born woman who became the "Queen" of salsa, a music genre invented in New York by Caribbean immigrants.
Born in Havana in 1925, Celia Cruz, a black woman, left Cuba with her first group La Sonora Matancera in 1959, when Fidel Castro toppled the dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. Celia Cruz, known for her aversion to the Castro regime, would join Tito Puente's orchestra in 1966, and her recordings for the Fania label helped to construct the legacy of salsa, the American "melting pot" in which Spanish-speaking immigrants borrowed from the intricacies of Afro-American jazz and vice versa.
Angélique Kidjo lived through the Cuban tidal wave while still in her native Benin, West Africa. Cuban music — beginning with the rumba, the son and the cha cha cha — had been nurtured in voyages back and forth between the shores of the Atlantic.
The music had boarded the same boats as slaves, returning from the Americas on merchant ships to establish itself in the sixties, thanks to exchanges that took place between West African post-colonial governments and their Cuban comrades. The Congo's rumba took flight, and the salsa permeated the orchestras of West Africa.
When the young Angélique Kidjo went to see Celia Cruz sing with Johnny Pacheco at a concert in Cotonou, she had the feeling she was on familiar ground. Many years later her path crossed Queen Celia in a Parisian theatre where she was singing Quimbara, a song composed in 1974 by Junior Cepeda from Puerto Rico. Angélique could hear African percussion in the voice of Celia Cruz. She recognized the structure of the drums played by the Yoruba people, and she could hear the names of Chango or Yémanja, divinities that were common to the sphere of voodoo - Benin, Nigeria, Brazil, Haiti, and Cuba, where the Marxist regime hadn't succeeded in killing the santeria religion.