Kidjo was born the first of nine children in Benin, West Africa. Her interest in music was evident from a young age, but it couldn't flourish in her birthplace. The society did not respect or support female singers.
Lucky for Kidjo, her parents did not follow that mold. They brought a variety of music into the house and eventually, helped their daughter leave the country for France so she could pursue her singing career.
In her latest album, "Black Ivory Soul," Kidjo incorporates the percussion-driven beats of Brazil into her already diverse music mix for her seventh album. Kidjo has said she had thought Benin and the Brazilian land of Bahia were spiritually connected. The cultures are almost intertwined in their music, food, and people according to her. Many songs of Brazil are performed in the native African languages of Yoruba and Fon.
The influences from the countries are evident in Kidjo's "Black Ivory Soul" album. It is drenched in African and Brazilian rhythms with a knowing nod to the contemporary grooves. Some tunes are sung in English, French and Yoruba.
Kidjo wrote in a biography, "As for the concept behind 'Black Ivory Soul,' I believe music is the only way to heal pain and bring people together. It's a language beyond color of skin, country or culture. I want to inspire people to think about poverty, freedom and family on a deeper level."
The singer toured extensively during the past two years as an opening act for The Dave Matthews Band, including a series of stadium concerts last summer.