Singer Angélique Kidjo of Africa named new UNICEF Special Representative

25 July 2002

Calling her “one of the most creative and forward thinkers in the music world,” UNICEF today announced the appointment of celebrated West African singer Angélique Kidjo as the agency’s newest Special Representative.

Calling her “one of the most creative and forward thinkers in the music world,” UNICEF today announced the appointment of celebrated West African singer Angélique Kidjo as the agency’s newest Special Representative.

“Ms. Kidjo's global popularity and personal commitment to children will make a big difference for UNICEF and for children everywhere,” said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy, welcoming the singer’s expressed intention to focus on education. “It will help us get all girls and boys in school, help them stay there, and help us ensure that all children learn what they need to succeed.”

As an artist Ms. Kidjo has always tackled serious social issues, but her chief commitment is to education. “For me education is so crucial because everything goes with it, like healthy politics and development,” she said. “Young people are the hope of my continent. When I watch the children of Africa, all dreams seem possible.” She also noted that education is crucial to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“One day, education and good health will allow my continent to rise,” she added. “I'm sure of this.”

Ms. Kidjo is known for steeping her melodies in the tribal and pop rhythms of her West African heritage while crossing musical and national boundaries by blending a variety of other styles, including funk, salsa, jazz, rumba, souk and makossa. Her lyrics have touched on such topics as race, environment, homelessness and the need to integrate. She has worked hard at communicating strong messages about the HIV/AIDS emergency to young people in West Africa, and in 1996 was invited to perform at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony.

Though she once considered being a human right lawyer, Ms. Kidjo thinks that she can have a greater impact through her music. “I believe music is a language beyond colour of skin, country or culture,” she said. “I want to inspire people to get to work to help educate, nourish and protect our children – they are our chance to get it right.”

UNICEF has become renowned for the distinguished array of personalities it has attracted to support its mission, starting with American entertainer Danny Kaye in the 1950s. Today UNICEF works with 17 international stars and more than 100 national and regional ambassadors.

 

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