Angélique Kidjo

Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo 


Widely considered to be "Africa's premier diva" Angélique Kidjo is a Grammy-winning musician and noted social activist who, like forerunner Miriam Makeba, has devoted her life’s work to the disciplines of interpersonal communication and cultural enrichment.  Currently residing in New York City, Angélique’s presence on the international music scene has never been more palpable. A prolific dynamo in the recording studio, Angélique’s passion for touring and performing live is only superseded by her desire to do good works within the global community.  Indeed, her philanthropic endeavours have benefited her spiritually and intellectually as she passes on the knowledge and experience she has gained during her twenty-year career as a multi-tasking  Ambassador of Goodwill and Peace for her homeland’s African Union. Known for her tireless efforts on behalf of UNICEF, Angélique Kidjo has spoken regarding the plight of vulnerable women and children on numerous occasions.    

“We Africans have to be able to deal with our problems. Help from outside is alright, but we have to learn to be responsible for our own attitudes.”  She says.

Her selflessness and composure, in addition to her considerable musical talent, has caught the attention of many recording artists who have sought her out for collaborative purposes.  Working with the likes of Branford Marsalis, Peter Gabriel, and Carlos Santana has given Angélique even greater exposure, extending her influence beyond borders and boardrooms into a broader public forum.

“Music is the only thing that can bring us together...And music is the only thing, I definitely believe that, that can bring us together and gonna be the weapon of the 21st century.”

A wildly creative star of the stage, Angélique’s signature style has come to be known as Afro-fusion.  A multi-genre blend of West African rhythms, Congolese rumba, gospel, Caribbean zouk, jazz, R&B, Latin-styles and even funk, her sound has defined a generation and brought the riches of Benin to a global audience.  A natural behind the microphone, Angélique’s easy going manner and rock solid technique have endeared her to peers and critics alike.  The soulful substance of her lyrics and the pure strength of her traditional Zilin vocal manipulations often lead to unexpected places as she sings in a variety of dialects including Fon, French, English, Yoruba, Swahili and sometimes in her own secret language.

“I'm an African bringing my culture to the Western world. But I use technology and rhythm and blues and jazz and rock. I make it easier for you by combining your tools with mine.”

 A shining example of what Africa was and what it shall become in the future, Angélique is currently riding high on the success her Grammy-nominated 2010 release Õÿö.  Homage to days gone by, Õÿö sees the gifted singer- songwriter laying claim to all of her childhood favourites.  From traditional folk tunes out of Benin to the swinging sway of Motown’s golden era, Angélique is enjoying rediscovering the classics; and she wants to take you with her.  

“My parents taught me to respect every style, every culture and language. Music is a language that everyone has to learn and understand. Those who might not understand will feel it.”

2011 is off to a grand start for Angélique as she became the recipient of the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth Award and was tapped for a BET Awards nomination for Best International Act: Africa.  Hot off delivering a roof-raising, “Best of Angélique” performance at the illustrious Philharmonic Luxembourg Hall in June, Angélique is set to take to light up the stage as she takes us through the Rhythms of Change at this year’s Afrikadey! Festival on Calgary’s own Prince’s Island.

~Christine Leonard 

Angelique Kidjo will be speaking Friday, August 12th at the Changing Africa: My Role Symposium and performing on August 13th at Prince's Island Park.

You can find Angélique on her website: 

Etran Finatawa

Etran Finatawa

The band is a union of the Tuaregs and Wodaabe tribes, was formed in january 2004 and is the first group at all with Wodaabe people making modern music. The literal meaning of their name is ‘the stars of tradition’. They are the first group to use the songs and music of the Wodaabe in a modern context.  They began as a group of ten musicians who wanted to unite these two nomadic cultures as a symbol of peace and reconciliaton. The touring and recording band consists of five players, two of whom are Tuareg and three, Wodaabe-Fulani. Together they set out to create a new music-style: Nomad's blues.

Wodaabe and Tuaregs live in the same parts of Africa but their music is very different: Wodaabe sing in a traditional manner, dressed in traditional costumes and decorated with face paints. They do not use any instruments but sing in a multivocal way while they dance in slow motion. Their dance, their costumes and their rhythm is unique in the world. Tuareg people have always used instruments, violins and drums, to animate their songs and dances. Since the seventies the guitar has found its way in Tuareg music. This style is called Ichumar and is a part of Etran Finatawa's repertoire.

Make sure you catch Etran Finatawa as they will only be performing on Monday, August 8th at the Opening Gala and Concert. 

To find out more visit:


shadk- Rhythms of Change.  Words of wisdom.  

- African-Canadian rapper, Shad, nurtures his roots.

Born in Kenya to Rwandan parents, hip-hop sensation Shadrach Kabango, better known as Shad, is as Canadian as they come.  Raised amidst the comparable comforts of London, Ontario’s suburban jungle, Shad learned to value his individuality and to develop his god-given talents for singing and song-writing starting at an early age. His 2005 debut When This Is Over was a gamble and a labour of love as Shad financed this first release himself, while still an undergraduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, utilizing the prize money he’d won at the Beat’s Rhythm of the Future talent show.   The unforgettable track “I’ll Never Understand” holds a mirror up to his own emotions regarding the Rwandan genocide and features original poetry penned by Shad’s mother, Bernadette Kabango.  

“My musical style focuses on reflecting my experiences and my musical history, as well as my personal history.”  Shad confirm.  “I have Canadian roots I have African roots and I have experiences within both kinds of music.  Canada’s such a young country in terms of immigration from African, and we’re seeing the first generation of Canadian-African artists emerge.  As an artist I’m just feeling my way out and trying to talk about my experience and my ideas and my life, and by doing that you stumble upon something unique.  I always  try to keep it as closely tied to my own personal experiences and ideas as possible that way even when I’m social or political issue its coming less from the a top down didactic and more from a place of sharing my opinions and feelings it’s a lot more honest and accessible that way.”  

Encouraged by his initial wave of success, Shad’s released The Old Prince two years later on Black Box Recordings, tapped for two MuchMusic Video Awards as well as making the short-list for 2010’s Polaris Music Prize, the galvanizing album also earned the emerging rapper his first Juno Award nomination.  Pressing ever forward, the bilingual  Shad soon added to his business degree by achieving his masters in liberal studies from Simon Frazer University in British Columbia, an accomplishment he considers more of a pragmatic necessity than just another feather in his cap.  

“Being a role model to today’s youth is obviously an honour and responsibility I take seriously.  School is something I’ve always liked and I’m realizing more and more that learning is really a privilege.  It’s helped me approach music in a more genuine way.  Whenever you take in great works, it affects you and inspires you.”  He continues.  “As I think about making the next album I do wonder if going the autobiographical route in your musical persona it could be kind of limiting as you could run out of things to say.  There are things I still have to say and I think there are musical ways to sort them out.  I don’t know what the future has in store I could never envision this point in my life when I was younger.”

 “It’s amazing how music has changed.  I find myself saying that even in the few years since I started that things are different.  At that time Facebook and Youtube weren’t that huge, home-recording was less prevalent, blogs weren’t being used to promote bands.  Things have really opened up.  I’m going to be in Rwanda in September playing for the first time.   I think there’s reverse diaspora in that African people who have lived or spent time in North America and Europe are taking my music back to Africa.  I’m looking forward to going over with some other Canadian artists, which should be cool.”

Taking on the title of role model is an unexpected turn for the humble rapper, who is known for his self-depreciating tone which is the antithesis of a genre commonly defined by megalomania.   Acknowledging his roots and his upbringing as abiding sources of inspiration, Shad consistently demonstrates how one might parlay their hardships into harmony and make a peaceful future with the ghosts of the past.   The fulsome result of his academic and artistic efforts, Shad’s third album TSOL (True Sounds of Liberty) appeared in 2010 and this time he won the Juno Award for Rap Recording of the Year.  

“TSOL that album was the first album that I’ve made that music was my job.” Reports an enthusiastic Shad.  “It came from that place of being excited about the process and just sitting down and trying to make the best record possible.  My previous albums were more about the energy of being young and really pouring everything into music.   The same sort of things came about in keeping the subjects varied, and talks about different things and represent different sides of where I’m at as an artist.”

Spurred on by his love of music and a strong desire to express his innermost thoughts, Shad’s creativity has reached its pinnacle.  Combing intelligent observation with his compassionate social views, the rapper’s razor sharp wit and optimistic exuberance are at once contagious and empowering.  Passing on his message of resilience and positivity to the next generation of Canadians is but one of the benefits Shad perceives in spreading his uniquely modern dialogue on Africa’s cultural legacy.

“I’m always glad when the people who curate festivals have a broad enough interpretation of their genres to include me.”  Says Shad of his upcoming appearance at Calgary’s Afrikadey! Festival. “It’s about showcasing the sheer variety cultural identities and artistic tastes that can exist within the same type of music.  I’m hoping to represent who I am, and what I do, and that’s really the nature of hip-hop music and the nature of African music and it all comes from the same tradition.”  He elaborates.

“For the live show, it’s a bit of different entity; I focus on keeping it interesting and fun and involving the audience.  Interacting with the people makes it a special event as opposed to listening to the record.  Overall, I think festivals like Afrikadey! go a long way to exposing people to other customs and representing the diversity that exists within a community.  It reveals what’s most important – the underlying humanity of who we are.”

~Christine Leonard

To learn more visit him @ 

Artist line-up for 2011

Welcome to another year of fascinating artists and spectacular performances!

Once again Tunde Dawodu our Artistic Director has outdone himself.  For the love of music and its power to move the world, these artists are bringing the tribal and ancestral beats to new life...

Be prepared to come face to face with the

Rythm of Change

Thank you!

Thank you to all the writers, editors, and photographers who contributed to this year's program guide, especially Claire Ekaterina, Christine Leonard, Caitlynn Cummings, Celina Vides, Matt Krawchuk, Ken Mann and Andrea Llewellyn, and a big thank you to Fortune Circus for graphic design. 

Nomfusi Gotyana

Known to the musical world simply as Nomfusi, 24 year-old singer/songwriter Nomfusi Gotyana is one of the featured artists coming to the Afrikadey! stage this August. Having blessed Calgary audiences with a stellar performance at Afrikadey! 2009, she will shine once more as a star attraction as a participant in this year's much anticipated main-stage festivities.

A far cry from her humble beginnings in the Eastern Cape province's KwaZakhele township and eventually Khayelitsha (on the outskirts of Cape Town), South Africa, Nomfusi has built a successful international musical career through her exceptional talent and by the sheer force of her irrepressible will. An expert at melding South African musical styles and influences with modern influences such as Tina Turner, Lauren Hill and Aretha Franklin, Nomfusi injects each of her songs with soulful power and fiery passion to create beautiful music while remaining true to her cultural roots.

Having lost a great source of support with the death of her mother, a traditional healer, in 1988, the twelve year-old once again demonstrated her resilience by using her personal pain as emotional motivation to compose her first song, "Uthando", which means "love". Of Uthando she says: "Losing my mother made me understand what love is and the kind of love she was teaching us, and that for me was to love myself so much that I would not let any situation destroy me, not even her death." The intrepid vocalist was recently dealt another harsh blow when her sister passed away, only adding to her brave resolve.

By now an expert at parlaying hardship into harmony, Nomfusi has stepped into the recording studio to immortalize her craft, releasing a live "in concert with" DVD. In addition, her debut album entitled Kwazibani, which was her mother's name and which means "Who Knows?", has garnered acclaim and appreciation from fans and critics alike. Swathed in the rhythms and melodies of Sophiatown jazz and inspired by musicians such as the talented Abigail Khubeka, Kwazibani was embraced by the world-beat community as a work of exceptional maturity and honesty. Nomfusi has even had her touching Xhosa lyrics translated into English as a nod to her growing international fanbase.

Armed with a strong and uplifting voice, remarkable beauty and a dynamic and appealing stage presence, Nomfusi has forged a golden reputation for entertaining audiences across the globe. Her signature Afro-soul style is described as a blend of rhythm and blues, jazz and South African contemporary music. Already a seasoned veteran of prominent concert-series such as Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Nomfusi this year plans to embark on a on an extended international tour with her band appearing at prestigious festivals in North America and Europe. A role-model for young people of all backgrounds, Nomfusi Gotyana, the petite-powerhouse, is eager to showcase her Afro-soul delights to Calgary's Afrikadey! audience and to bring the warm heart of Africa home to the western Canadian prairies.


Afrikadey!: What have you been up to recently?
Nomfusi: I've been working on my new material for my second album.

Afrikadey!: Do you have any upcoming albums?
Nomfusi: Yes I do.

Afrikadey!: What is your compositional process: do you write a melody, and then add lyrics? Does your band show you a cool riff and you build up a song together?
Nomfusi: I always write things down ideas etc and if I feel strongly about a subject then I expand on it and make lyrics. The melody comes when I'm relaxing and happy.

Afrikadey!: What is the favourite line you've written?
Nomfusi: From my song "Nontsokolo" (translated from Xhosa): "I know your story Poverty, I know the depth of your pain Poverty and I know where you come from, because I am Poverty.

Afrikadey!: If you could perform a duet with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
Nomfusi: Tina Turner

Afrikadey!: Do you have any funny stories from on tour?
Nomfusi: Our drummer Collin is very funny. He has his own unique way of seeing things. For example when we fly over Africa, and you ask him how far still to go? He'll say "we're now at the hip," (pointing to his own hip, referring to Tanzania) or "we're almost at the elbow" (Somalia).

Afrikadey!: How is it being one woman among quite a few men on tour?
Nomfusi: The guys like to go out and explore the places we visit and meet lots of interesting people. I like to go to my hotel room and lie in bed and watch movies.

Afrikadey!: How does Canada's festival music scene compare to other countries you've visited?
Nomfusi: Well all the festivals I've been too have their own distinct element but Afrikadey festival is beautiful because of how it captures different African sounds.

Afrikadey!: Are there any songs that you are particularly excited to perform at Afrikadey!?
Nomfusi: Yes!!!!! And it's a surprise.

Afrikadey!: Last year at Afrikadey! you performed a song using these fantastic, Miriam Makeba-inspired clicks and mouth-singing. How do you do that?
Nomfusi: Well it's like asking a dog how does it bark, I'm born with it and I'm an African who has always been interested in African things.

Afrikadey!: Can you give me a quick lesson?
Nomfusi: Yes if you are eager to do it then lets DO THIS THING!

Afrikadey!: Is there anything in Calgary you plan on seeing or doing while you're here?
Nomfusi: Enjoy the sun and see Mr Tunde.

Visit Nomfusi on MySpace Music & Facebook.

© Copyright 2009 - 2013, | Site Map | Contact | Staff Login

Joomla 1.6 Templates designed by Joomla Hosting Reviews