FirstWorks, a Rhode Island non-profit dedicated to building community through world-class arts, will present global pop star Angélique Kidjo at The VETS on Saturday, February 22 at 8 p.m. performing her re-imagining of the Talking Heads’ landmark album, “Remain in Light.” Tickets to Angélique Kidjo’s “Remain in Light” are available at the PPAC/VETS box office (220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence), by phone at 421-ARTS (2787) or online at first-works.org and thevetsri.com. Tickets are $39-$69 (prices include a $4 per ticket facility restoration fee).
FirstWorks first introduced Providence to Benin-born singer, songwriter, and activist Angélique Kidjo in 2015 when she enthralled thousands of festivalgoers in the heart of Kennedy Plaza at the summer festival now known as PVDFest. Hailed as “Africa’s premiere diva” (TIME magazine), Kidjo creates sonic bridges between the realities of her continent of origin and its imagined identity in Western popular consciousness. The four-time Grammy winner’s interpretation of the Talking Heads’ afrobeat-influenced album “Remain In Light” reclaims rock for Africa and celebrates the many culturally specific sounds that the album holds in conversation.
Lyrics of the original 1980 album, which includes chart-topping hits like “Once in a Lifetime,” weave themes of gentrification and social control, modernization, and struggle with beauty standards that resonate with modern audiences. Today, Kidjo infuses “Remain in Light” with her “canyon filling voice” (Billboard), explosive percussion and lyrical additions in languages from her home country in what the New York Times describes as combining "village traditions," "cosmopolitan transformations" and "female solidarity."
“FirstWorks is thrilled to continue our relationship with Angélique Kidjo and give Rhode Islanders an astonishing, dancing-in-the-aisles performance, on the heels of her phenomenal Grammy win,” said Kathleen Pletcher, Executive Artistic Director of FirstWorks. “Kidjo’s deeply entrenched belief in advocacy, girls’ education, and global connection make her as genius a humanitarian as she is a musical artist. We’re excited to have her talents reach Providence audiences and public school students through FirstWorks Education.”
Kidjo was most recently awarded Best World Music Album at the 2020 Grammys for her album “Celia.” Kidjo returns to Rhode Island after past appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival and the inaugural Providence International Arts Festival, now known as PVDFest.
As part of FirstWorks’ Education programming, Angélique Kidjo will offer a duet performance and speak about her work as a humanitarian with students on Friday, February 21 from 3-4 p.m. at Classical High School Auditorium in Providence. This interactive matinee will include a post-show conversation facilitated by Providence City Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune. The event is open to public school students and is most appropriate for students in grades 7 through 12. Registration is free but required; more information at first-works.org.
Angélique Kidjo’s residency is part of FirstWorks’ “Raise Your Voice” programming, a season-long project designed to amplify diverse voices and celebrate differences through the performing arts. “Raise Your Voice” brings world-class artists to Rhode Island for in-depth residencies featuring K-12 educational matinees, artist-led workshops for students and older adults, film screenings, and community engagement programming designed to generate empathy through the arts. “Raise Your Voice” is made possible in part with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Providence’s Department of Art, Culture Tourism, and the Otto H. York Foundation.
For more information on FirstWorks’ 2020 season, visit first-works.org. Educator and student discounts are available by calling 421-4278.