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On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast, we’ve got a pair of pioneering musical searchers who came together for a Grammy-nominated record last year: Angélique Kidjo and Ibrahim Maalouf.
Now, trying to encapsulate Kidjo’s career into the little space I have here is an even more daunting task than usual—and we’ve had some really accomplished people on this podcast. Born in West Africa, Kidjo has ably explored various musics over the past 40 years or so, winning fans with an incredible range of styles and interests. She’s played on Lilith Fair, won Grammys, been a muse for Philip Glass, started a foundation to empower girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, collaborated with everyone from Carlos Santana to Ezra Koenig to Dr. John to Josh Groban to Kronos Quartet—and that list goes on and on. The only real constant in her career—besides a sort of deep, inexplicable beauty—is a restlessness. Kidjo is always looking for the next thing to spark her interest, which led to a recent Grammy-nominated collaboration with today’s other guest, Ibrahim Maalouf.
Maalouf is a French-Lebanese trumpeter who shares a musical outlook with Kidjo—both care deeply about always pushing the boundaries of what they do, and never repeating themselves. To that end, they collaborated on last year’s Queen of Sheba, which takes the oft-told Biblical story to new places. KIdjo wrote the lyrics in the Yoruba language, and Maalouf’s music builds a bridge between the sounds of the Middle East and Africa. Since that record came out, Maalouf has already released another, Capacity to Love, on which he examines American sounds—specifically hip-hop—gathering guests like Eric the Architect from Flatbush Zombies and Pos from De La Soul. Also, strangely, Sharon Stone.
In this lovely and enlightening conversation, Kidjo and Maalouf trade stories about their inspiration behind making music, and each shares some really profound advice they got as children. Kidjo speaks about the recent loss of her mother, and what that’s meant to her spiritually—and how it might affect her next album, which sounds like it will be deeply personal. Enjoy.
Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast and thanks to Angélique Kidjo and Ibrahim Maalouf for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcasting platform, and check out all the great stuff we’ve got going at Talkhouse.com. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!
(Feature Photo Credit: Brantley Gutierrez; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)