Angélique Kidjo's Celia honors Celia Cruz, widely known as "the Queen of Salsa" and the most popular Latin artist of the 20th century. On Celia, Angélique explores the African roots of the Cuban-born Cruz and re-imagines selections from Cruz's extraordinary career in surprising new ways, infused with an explosion of sounds and rhythms from Cuba, Africa, the Middle East, America and beyond. The album includes performances by Tony Allen (Fela Kuti) on drums, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, and British saxophonist Shabaka Hutchinsplus his band Sons of Kemet. Celia was recorded in New York and Paris, produced and arranged by David Donatien and mixed by Russell Elevado (D'Angelo, Kamasi Washington).
Says Kidjo: "As a child I saw Celia Cruz sing in Benin and her energy and joy changed my life. It was the first I was seeing a powerful woman performer on a stage. Her voice was percussive and her songs resonated in a mysterious way with me. Many years later, I learned she was singing the Yoruba songs that were carried out of Benin 400 years before. I felt she was a long lost sister from the other side of the world. Like me, she experienced exile from a dictatorship and she was always proud of her roots, of her African roots. In the same way I wanted to bring back Rock and Roll to Africa with my Talking Heads' Remain In Light project, I now want to pay homage to this incredible voice and those songs that reunite with their juju and Afrobeat roots."
Over the course of 10 beloved songs from Cruz's extensive catalog but with special focus on her work from the 1950s, Angélique's voice soars in lockstep with a grand presentation of rhythmic touchstones that delve deep into the history of music from Africa and it's influence on the music of Cuba. Each song celebrates this idea – from the tight Afro-beat groove of "Baila Yemaja," the high octane take on "Quimbara," the frantic energy of "Bemba Colora" to "Oya Diosa," a lushly orchestrated ballad.