Voice

Pearly Gates, the Musical

poster-300x251The March 18 world premiere of Pearly Gates, the Musical at the famous El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood was a surprise. There was no advance notice, beyond a casting call last December. There was no advertising, nothing on Goldstar. A friend of mine knew a guy who knew someone in the cast – so I went.

The place was packed, completely sold out. We took our seats to jazz standards, played by the show’s music director/pianist/composer, Joshua Rich, and his bassist and drummer. By the time their set was over, the audience was in a pretty good mood. Not a bad way to open a show nobody ever heard of.

The story is by Scott Ehrlich – who has never written anything. The book is by Scott Ehrlich and Penny Orloff. The lyrics are by Joshua Rich… and Scott Ehrlich. The show is produced by Scott Ehrlich. And to cap it all off, starring in Pearly Gates is… you guessed it – Scott Ehrlich. In the program notes, Ehrlich clearly states he has never sung before, and never done a play, but those activities were on his “bucket list.”

So, how does Ehrlich do? I have to say that, except for a few missed pitches, his singing is okay. Sometimes, better than okay. Except for a few awkward actions, he does fine any time he is on the stage – which is about 90 percent of the show. There is something admirable about his commitment to the performance, that goes beyond talent. In a unique way, he succeeds as Jason Burns, a man who finds out he has only a short time left to live.

Of course, he has help. Lots of help. A large cast backs Ehrlich up. Fiona Bates gives a powerhouse performance as Jason Burns’ wife. Ehrlich’s daughter, Taylor Ehrlich, plays his onstage daughter. Zachary Rice plays her little brother. They both have a natural ease onstage that sets them apart from the usual, artificially cute Hollywood kid actors. Both children have sweet, clear soprano voices that make the final scene heartbreaking.

A stand-out as Jason Burns’ father  is 80-something Tony Molina, who apparently shared the marquee with Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sammy Davis, Jr., back in the Roseland era. His beautiful voice is still strong, and his phrasing is wonderful. Playing opposite him as Jason’s mother is a pretty and slender senior citizen, Miriam Rosen. Rosen’s timing and delivery get big laughs, and she was the only actor whose speech was completely clear. Her voice is incredibly powerful, going from alto to high soprano, and she can make it do absolutely anything. Her song in the funeral scene was just beautiful. Rosen even dances, easily keeping up with much younger cast members.

The director was Trace Oakley, who kept the proceedings moving along. There were a few really great touches, like when a chorus of senior citizens mimes despair behind white masks. The small amount of choreography by Neisha Folks isn’t that good – kind of awkward jazz steps that don’t really suit the dancers.

The songs are pretty standard musical numbers, but a lot of the lyrics are really clever. Joshua Rich begins with a fun full-company number and ends with a big anthem. In between, his songs go from funny to angry to wistful to tragic, and the tunes stay with you after the curtain comes down. The show moves to Lancaster and Thousand Oaks, and there is talk of an off-Broadway run in the Fall.

- By Ellen Kahan

For information or tickets, go to www.pearlygatesmusical.com.

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Extra! Extra! Win Tickets to See Yefim Bronfman Perform!

barbican-vpo-gergiev2According to the Independent and the Jewish Week, he is also the son of two Jewish musicians, one a Polish pianist and one a Russian violinist, both of whom were forced to flee their homes at the start of World War II. His father was captured by the Nazis as a POW, but, during a march between camps, managed to escape into a nearby ditch, where he proceeded to spend the entire night. A month-long trek to Moscow, a brush with starvation, and a brief prison stint later, Yefim’s father met and settled down with Yefim’s mother in Tashkent, where their young son was “accepted” into the Soviet conservatory as a portion of the two-percent maximum quota for Jews.

This kind of anti-semitism led Yefim and his family to eventually emigrate to Israel. There, Bronfman enrolled at the Rubin Academy of Music at Tel Aviv, where he quickly excelled and won a scholarship—the same scholarship that Itzhak Perlman once won—to be able to study at the Curtis Institute in Philadephia under the great Leon Fleisher.

I only mention all this past, because somehow when you see Bronfman play, even on YoutTube, he seems to be exorcising his roots. It’s no wonder he became so well-known for his renditions of Russian composers; within them, he must have found the way to tell his own beginnings of his own story.

And today, he continues telling that story, one which has become all the more complex and varied as he has grown, become a US citizen, and renowned all over the world. On Wednesday, March 9th at 8:00 PM, he returns to Los Angeles at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with a “kaleidoscopic program pairing the world premiere of Salonen’s Humoreske with Schumann’s Humoreske, plus works by Haydn and Chopin.” To win two tickets to see Bronfman’s powerful presence in person, simply enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below. If you do so, you will also automatically be entered into
the running for our next three FineArtsLA ticket giveaways as well.

As the writer Phillip Roth once wrote about Bronfman:”With a jaunty wave, he is suddenly gone, and though he takes all his fire off with him like no less a force than Prometheus, our own lives now seem inextinguishable. Nobody is dying, nobody – not if Bronfman has anything to say about it.”

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Extra! Extra! A Very Midori Thanksgiving! Ticket Giveaway!

midori-299x300Thanksgiving. The word itself seems like an oxy-moron, especially in LA. Here we are used to saying thanks for getting, and any gift we give should rightfully come with its proper reward in return. And this is all well and good for a city that was built on pure opportunism, but when does this type of self-centered thinking—as opposed to communal—hurt us creatively?

Take the ever-growing Mustaches for Kids craze, for instance: it’s a wildly creative organization whereby volunteers grow mustaches in order to raise money for children’s charities. The thing is that the institution, which is now nation-wide (I even saw filmmaker Darren Aronofsky sporting a mustache), was borne out of Los Angeles. It was started by three friends in a reality TV-show production office who all thought it would be fun to grow mustaches for a month (an act of true creativity, in my opinion). However, despite its success, Mustaches for Kids really took off when it hit New York, the city now considered to be the center of the organization. And there’s only one reason for this re-location: creative pursuits (i.e. no profit involved), whether it be growing mustaches for charity or painting pictures or playing music or putting on plays, etc. can only thrive in a community of supporters.

This is not to say that Los Angeles is completely bereft of such support. In fact, one of the most charitable, not to mention talented, violinists working today, Midori, is based out of LA, and she is performing alongside pianist Robert McDonald at the Walt Disney Concert Hall this Sunday, November 21 at 7:30 PM. Only 28-years-old,  Midori was a musical prodigy sprouting from Japan, who quickly rose to international acclaim, and is now widely recognized as one of the top violinists in the world. But it is her incredible charity work that has truly carved her reputation as an artist. Not only an established educator at USC, she personally founded four different community-centered organizations—Midori & Friends, Partners in Performance, Orchestra Residencies Program, and Music Sharing—beginning the first one when she was just 10-years-old and is still actively involved in all four.

So in the spirit of Midori, and to show our thanks for her giving, we are, in turn, giving away a pair of tickets to see her perform on Sunday night. Not only that, but we are adding in the bonus prize of a pair of tickets to see legendary bass-baritone Bryn Terfel the next night, Monday, November 22nd at 8:00 PM, same location. All you have to do is enter your first name, last name and e-mail address into th form below, and you will automatically be entered into the running to receive both pairs of tickets, and be eligible to win our next three ticket giveaways. Happy Thanksgiving, from Fine Arts LA!

- By Joshua Morrison

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Extra! Extra! Zacharias! Zacharias! Ticket Giveaway to LA Phil!

WDCH-ImageOccasionally a friend—and even more occasionally, a date—will get in the passenger seat of my car and I’ll turn on the radio. Like most LA commuters, I spend most of my car-time alone, with the windows up, free to listen to whatever cool or un-cool music I  please, and the probability of the radio being tuned into Classical KUSC is quite high. For me, classical music is choice on a long trip down the 10 if only because it’s so unfathomable. Most pop and hip-hop music, though enjoyable and satisfying its own right, I can deconstruct. I can imagine the songwriting process, and in my limited musical ability, fathom the instrumentation. There’s little wonder involved; it’s more nostalgia and/or primal reaction.

But for most friends or dates, the mere sound of strings without vocals or brass without beat incites a confused reaction. They look at me like I’m a pretentious ass, as if just before they entered the car, I had switched the radio station to KUSC, then turned it off so as to trick them into thinking how cultured I really am.

The truth is I am just as confused as they are. Listening to classical music is a slow and constant learning process, at least for me, and I often struggle with what makes these so-called masters—these Beethovens, the Bachs, these Mozarts—what makes them so good. It wasn’t until a few years ago, when I went to my first symphony voluntarily, that I realized the answer: you have to see it live.

And fortunately for you, our dear and patient reader, FineArtsLA is giving you that chance—for free, no less—to experience all three of the big names listed above (well, almost) in one night. This Saturday, October 30th, 8:00 PM at Walt Disney Music Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, world-renowned conductor and celebrated pianist Christian Zacharias leads the LA Philharmonic and mega-mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in a program featuring all music composed within 53 years.  Mozart’s “Ch’io mi scordi di te?“, C.P.E Bach’s “Keyboard Concerto in D Minor,” and Beethoven’s “Suite from The Creatures of Prometheus” make up the bill. All you have to do is enter your first name, last name, and e-mail address into the form below, and you will be eligible to receive two free tickets to this event (as well as be automatically entered into the running for our next three ticket giveaways).

This way, when your friend or date gives you that confused look when you turn on the radio to KUSC, you can simply say, “This is Beethoven. The music we’re headed to go see.”

- By Joshua Morrison

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Phantom Disappears Into the Night

Phantom-and-ChristineThe idea of life without Phantom of the Opera is almost as unbelievable as a deformed miscreant in a 19th Century English opera house teaching classical vocal technique to one of the ballet’s mediocre but beautiful dancers.  Yet, that is what makes it a thrilling fantasy. The Phantom of the Opera can’t go anywhere. It can’t say goodbye—that’s impossible.  It is one of the most beloved and celebrated musicals of all time.  Its eerily haunting music, dramatic 19th Century set design, and iconic romance story can’t possible bid us farewell.  Phantom is to the theater what hot dogs are to baseball.  It’s a classic. It’s a staple. It’s so much a part of musical theater that it has become a part of our mainstream sonic culture.  It is blasted out of elevator speakers and played at so many people’s weddings that most of us tend to roll our eyes and classify it as cheeseball.  But that’s not Phantom’s fault! We are to blame for taking something captivating and special and playing it ad nauseum. I have always defended Phantom and will continue to go to bat for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s most successful musical until the day I die.   When I saw the “Farewell” posters flanking Wilshire Blvd, I got excited rather than sad, and I toted my boyfriend (a Phantom virgin) with me to Hollywood’s Pantages Theater.Ever since its 1986 debut in London’s West End, the story about a brilliant, disfigured, and mysterious musical genius’ obsession with a young, gorgeous and recently sexually awakened soprano has mesmerized and shocked audiences.  The combination of the story (drawn from Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra), Charles Hart’s sexy and sensitive lyrics, and Andrew Lloyd Weber’s gorgeous compositions, have made Phantom Broadway’s longest running musical ever. If you have never seen this show (like my opening night companion), do yourself a favor and experience it for the first time. Seeing it again through my boyfriend’s eyes brought me back to the first time that I fell head over heels for this mother of all musicals.

The show begins with an auction of opera house antiques—residual evidence of something traumatic from the past.  The action begins when the auctioneer calls out Lot #666, the house’s signature chandelier.  Something supernatural sparks the lamp into light, and the elegantly oppressive chandelier rises into the air, above the audience, in its original, breathtaking glory.  The constraints of time are removed, and as a collective whole, the audience is transported back to when innocence was lost, hearts were broken, and the unbelievable happened.

As soon as the chandelier lights up the stage, the show moves at breakneck speed, and the action doesn’t stop until curtain call.  This may be one of the quickest-moving shows I’ve ever seen.  Even if you’re one of those people that think of the theater as a good napping place, you can be assured that the non-stop entertainment will keep you awake.

Christine Daae (Trista Moldovan), the heroine of the musical, makes her singing debut in the signature song “Think of Me” after the opera’s lead soprano, Carolotta (Kim Stengel), becomes emotionally distressed when the stage backdrop mysteriously collapses.  Christine, we learn, has a vocal coach she’s never met that she calls “the Angel of Music”—but who she knows is indeed the storied Phantom.  She sings, and everyone is so impressed with her talent that nobody misses Carlotta—except for me, the real person, in the real audience, in the real world. Christine’s voice should be crystal clear and pitch perfect in the world of Phantom, but Trista Moldovan was often airy, flat, or sharp when she needed to be perfection. The Angel of Music is her coach for pete’s sake.

The best voice in this production belongs to Christine’s amour, Raoul (Sean MacLaughlin). Every note he sang was pure beauty, and there were many times that I wished that he had been cast as the Phantom (unfortunately played by word-slurring Tim Martin Gleason).  A voice like MacLaughlin’s should be heard more.  Raoul was my angel of music, and the ladies I talked to in the bathroom line during intermission unanimously agreed.  No wonder Christine fell in love with him. I almost did too.

As the story progresses, we start to realize that the Phantom is completely insane. We learn that Phantom is a musical prodigy and brilliant magician who was born with a disgustingly deformed face and escaped from a traveling freak show where he was abused and ridiculed most of his life.  Phantom’s attempts to woo Christine by kidnapping her and holding her captive in his sewer-lair prove fruitless.  Phantom’s life-size doll of Christine in a wedding gown is a major no-no in getting a girl to like you.  Perhaps in Victorian England people were a bit more forward, but good grief that was creepy.  As Christine’s youthful curiosity takes hold of her, she rips off the Phantom’s mask, and the audience learns that to call the Phantom emotionally unstable would be a gross understatement.  As he lies on the floor, reaching out to Christine for compassion and acceptance, you realize that Phantom just yearns to look normal and be loved, and Lloyd Weber’s beautiful music demands that your heartstrings be panged.

Christine longs for a life with a man that can give her a future, a man who lives among other men, a path that is more accepted: she wants the pretty boy, not the Phantom.  Trista Moldovan’s duet with Sean MacLaughlin in “All I Ask of You”  is a highlight of the show—not because of the song, which of course is stunning, but because of MacLaughlin’s flawless performance.  The omnipresent Phantom learns that his flame is hot for another.  Of course, being a total psychopath and outcast, he is unable to deal with feelings in any rational or productive way, so he goes batshit crazy and wills the chandelier to plunge dangerously over the audience.  It’s on.

The second act moves so quickly that your head whirls. Traps are laid, deceptions are had, and the conflict builds to a subterranean showdown between Christine, Raoul, Phantom, and the Victorian equivalent of a SWAT team. In the end, surrounded by police and with capture apparently inevitable, Phantom fools us again, disappearing into the night and leaving only his ivory mask.

I went to the Pantages Theater with every intention but to say farewell to this passionate, spirited, and deeply layered show.  Go fall in love all over again, but don’t ever say goodbye. Phantom should not—and will not—go anywhere.  As long as musicals are playing and people are attending the theater, there will be a place for Phantom. It is indeed the angel of musical theater.

-By Brittany Krasner

The Phantom of the Opera is playing at the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Blvd. through Halloween (October 31st).  For tickets and more information, please visit www.pantages-theater.com.

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If Life Were a Film Score, Then Youth Would Be Trumpets

Goldsmith-Project-May-2-1024x731“It’s hard to not to think of just a person playing the violin.” This is how my roommate James Taylor (not that James Taylor) jokingly responded after posing the question, what do you imagine while listening to classical music? James had been hired by classical music radio station KUSC to help come up with a possible interactive visualization tool for the station’s website, and was pondering ways in which to illustrate the complex string section of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

To help enliven his task, I invited James to come see the American Youth Symphony’s (AYS) final performance of their season at Royce Hall in the UCLA campus. He was unable to join me, but as soon as I sat down and took a look at the program, I realized he should have. The night was entitled, “The Goldsmith Project: The Middle Years (1971-1982)” and was dedicated to the late Oscar-winning film composer Jerry Goldsmith, specifically his works in the golden age of cinema—arguably the peak of his career. It marked the second installment of a planned three-year ‘Goldsmith Project’ the American Youth Symphony was doing in collaboration with the Film Music Society.

The opening number was not from a film, however; it was called “Music for Orchestra,” and was a single-movement commission piece Goldsmith composed for the St. Louis Symphony in 1970. This was the same year Goldsmith lost a wife to divorce and a mother to serious illness. Needless to say, the 8-minute-long dodecaphony expresses some dark themes, and as I examined the young performers (nobody a day past 27) arranged upon the stage, I was afraid the themes might prove too dark. But once I saw internationally-acclaimed conductor, and music director of AYS, Alexander Treger standing up on stage, baton in hand, fully confident in his fresh-faced ensemble, I knew I was in for a professional treat.

And such was the case. The kids—if I may call them that—finished “Music for Orchestra” flawlessly, their faces not showing the slightest hint of consternation, or effort even. As they went on to the next piece, excerpts from Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land (1954), I thought of how when I was the same age as some of the violin section, I rarely did anything without making a mistake. Meanwhile, these musicians—though even that title seems insufficient—flew through the gently epic tones of America’s most celebrated composer like it was breakfast.

Soon the much older members of the Angeles Chorale joined their youthful counterparts for the second movement of Tender Land. And it might have been the Whitman-esque phrasings in Copland’s lyrics, or the brassy Americana of his melodies, but the hall—mainly older folk—started to balloon with such a sense of hope. I couldn’t help but attribute this feeling to the mutual offerings of respect operating between the orchestra, the chorus, the audience, and even Copland himself.

Then came the film score section, led by guest conductor David Newman (that’s right…the man who brought you the legendary scores of Norbit, Scooby-Doo, Galaxy Quest, The Flintstones, and yes, Alvin and the Chipmuks: The Squeakquel). But who am I to kid? If anything Newman’s resume, and his affiliation with AYS, tells me that he’s comfortable catering to younger audiences, as well as adapting older themes into new ones. Which is almost exactly what he did. Under his direction, the young players—does that description work?—breathed life back into the forgotten, and in some cases never performed Goldsmith-penned soundtracks behind such films as Capricorn One and Papillon.

The real ticker of the night, however, came when they rolled down the giant projection screen above the stage and dimmed the lights, the orchestra members turning on their miniature stand-lights to see the sheet music for the score of the film Alien. Along with Chinatown and The Omen (which was performed later), this is probably one of Goldsmith’s best known works, only we were posed to hear the part of the score never before heard by a large audience—the part edited out of the original cut, yet inserted back in with precision for the night’s performance.

What became immediately apparent to me as I watched Sigourney Weaver and cohorts wrestle their way through a dark spaceship, the encroaching alien behind any corner, was the significance of silence in a film score. Long, sharp notes from an instrument called a serpent (a predecessor of the tuba), followed by just enough space for the action to take precedence over the music. I realized that film scores like Alien, or even more solemn ones like QB VII—another Goldsmith composition for the first-ever miniseries about the Holocaust—aren’t necessarily multi-layered. But they contain a lot of whimsy and neat tricks; they’re more interested in whisking you along the ride, rather than getting you lost inside it. They provide the space for images, so that the audience doesn’t just picture a person playing the violin. A good film composer must be versatile, proficient, and able to bend their distinct voice in service of another artist. Come to think of it, much like a young musician.

The American Youth Symphony 2009-2010 season has ended, but will start up again next year with yet another series of admission free performances at UCLA’s Royce Hall. For more information, please call (310) 470-2332, or visit www.aysymphony.org.

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Extra! Extra! Ian Bostridge at Royce Hall

barbican-bostridge-schubert1

The kind people at UCLA Live have offered, exclusively to Fine Arts LA readers thank you very much, a discount on tickets to see that tortured, irresistible Englishman we wrote about last night at Royce Hall!  The man: Ian Bostridge.  The performance: Schubert’s Winterreise. The time: tomorrow evening, 8pm.

Click here to go to the event page and make sure once you’ve chosen your tickets that you enter in the following secret password: WINTERREISE.  That will get you 25% off — just cause you’re so in-the-know. Enjoy the show!  (The offer only lasts for a limited time and can’t be combined with any other offers.)

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Don Henley is a Visionary?

dirty_projectors-walt_disney_concert_hall15-608x404The last time the Dirty Projectors played in Los Angeles was on Halloween at the Jensen Recreation Center in Echo Park, where frontman David Longstreth wore a ten-gallon foam cowboy hat and his upside-down guitar with the confidence of a newly minted visionary. Fans of the Projectors’ odd, brilliant, shimmering music had been waiting for the band to play at Disney Hall since November, anticipating their breakout hit, 2009’s Bitte Orca, amplified by a lush string section.

But on Saturday night, Longstreth looked small and befuddled on the Disney Hall stage, fiddling with the tuning of his guitars for a half an hour during intermission. Longstreth is 28, with the refractory brain of a brilliant twelve-year-old with attention deficit disorder and the composing abilities of Mozart on mushrooms in Africa. After Saturday night, the audience learned his musical influences include Ligeti, Wagner, Ravel, and Don Henley.

Don Henley might seem like an odd choice. The program notes include an earnest letter Longstreth sent Henley in 2005, accompanying a free copy of The Getty Address, Longstreth’s 2005 opera about materialism, the homogenization of FM radio, and Sacagewea, or something like that. “I have included a copy of it here for you,” Longstreth wrote to Henley. “The album examines the question of what is wilderness in a world completely circumscribed by highways, once Manifest Destiny has no place to go- but in the end it is a love story.” Clearly, this makes sense to only one person: Longstreth himself.

The program was divided into three parts: the Philharmonic playing alone, the Projectors playing The Getty Address along with the ensemble Alarm Will Sound, and the Projectors playing alone. The program began with selections Longstreth hand-picked for the Philharmonic. Highlights included Ligeti’s Etude No. 13, played by gray-haired John Orge, who lingered on the piano keys after the last high notes for a long, indulgent silence, and Ravel’s beautifully orchestrated Mother Goose Suite. After a long intermission, the Projectors emerged, wearing color-coordinated hooded jackets, to play The Getty Address in its entirety. And here is where the problems began.

dirty_projectors-walt_disney_concert_hall32-608x404Truthfully, the opera is an indulgent college project from a very, very talented student, with glimpses of the Projectors’ current, much more successful musical incarnation nestled in like raisins studded into a very wobbly gray oatmeal. In the first song (er, movement), “I Sit on the Ridge at Dusk,” the beat kicked in, and the Projectorettes (Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle, and Angel Deradoorian) wailed “got a world of trouble on my mind,” in an indistinct language, moving very slightly from side to side, like shy sirens. But momentum was lost on the second song, and the album is so complex, the time signatures so twisted, it seemed that no amount of practice could have nailed it down. It didn’t help that Alarm Will Sound had some spotty synchronicity and tuning moments. The long, drifting passages on “But in the Headlights” and “Gilt Gold Scabs” sounded misguided and naked, as though a player were missing. Some members played on wine bottles, and a base flute was involved, as well as lots of gratuitous hand-clapping, which sounded messy at times, perhaps on purpose. Many in the audience began to get restless, but the ensemble soldiered on to no avail.

After the opera finally ended, the Projectors (minus their drummer) took the stage for three songs: a very slow cover of Dylan’sI Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine,” as well as their own “Temecula Sunrise” and “Cannibal Resource” from Bitte Orca. They sounded good, and Longstreth’s singing sounded much more comfortable, but the band would have sounded much better with a whole orchestra backing them up. None of the women got to sing lead on any song, though Angel Deradoorian singing “Two Doves” would have sounded lovely in this acoustic setting.

All in all, the event demonstrated what the Projectors are capable of musically. It also showed that some misguided musical experiments are better laid to rest, no matter how brilliant their 23-year-old composer may be. As the Eagles said, “And I don’t want to hear any more/ No, no, baby/ I don’t want to hear any more.” Here’s hoping the Projectors stick to Bitte Orca from now on.

By Cassandra McGrath of CWG Magazine

The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles.  For more information on upcoming shows, please call (213) 972-7211, or visit www.laphil.com.

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The Kidjo Theory

magine the look on the face of Angelique Kidjo, Beninese singer, songwriter, and activist, when an American scientist contacted this songstress while conducting a study of the effect of music on the brain.  According to the Time Magazine’s feature of Kidjo, Inuit fishermen under the scientist’s research registered thought patterns of overwhelming serenity while listening to her music.  That’s indicative of something special.

Angelique Kidjo has an element of peace surrounding her.  Not to mention being a five-time Grammy nominee and a 2008 winner for Best Contemporary World Music Album, Kidjo has been a UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador since 2002 and she launched the growing Batonga Foundation.  This non-profit was founded as a result of Kidjo’s childhood of political/economic turbulence in her native Benin and the lack of advocacy for the education of African girls and women.  Working internationally, her tenacity for a global change infuses her music, an Afro-funk fusion with elements of American R&B, jazz, and Latin American beats.  Her music changes from smooth to bold with rhythms twisting quickly from the safe to out-of-control.  Pairing with legends Carlos Santana and Gilberto Gil, as well as Alicia Keys, Joss Stone, and Josh Groban, Kidjo has something for everyone, especially when she sings solo.  Now that’s a pattern to register.

-By Danyel Madrid

Angelique Kidjo will be performing at USC’s Bovard Auditorium March 26, 7.00. Contact USC Spectrum for more information: 213.740.2167.

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