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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  August 5, 2010 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: good evening. i'm tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with angelique kidjo. she's known for her african and western music. she's about to re release a c.d. it has high-profile collaborations. hair on she'll perform a track from the disk, in her first television appearance for the new project.
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you. thank you. ♪ tavis: please welcome angelique kidjo from the program. the grammy winner is here, and in advance of her new c.d., the disk features collaborations with a number of artists, including bono and jog john legend and diane reese. and here's a small sample of angelique kidjo in concert. ♪
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♪ [unintelligible] >> my long-time producer made a fatal mistake by not accepting your invitation to come on stage at disney hall here in l.a. what was his problem? >> i think he was too new. he needs to be straightened out. he can't be like that on me. >> you like to bring people up on stage and get in the aisles. 1kwr506 >> that's what we do in africa. the music is for everybody to share. it is from north to south and
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east to west and if you cannot dance, then you not alive. my mom used to say, i don't know how to dance. put your hand on your heart, is your heartbeating or are you dead yet? tavis: how does does -- does it make you feel when you're there and the audience is not into it? do you take personal offense? >> not at all. i like both. first you into the music and we're sharing the music together and i'm giving you all my soul and you're giving me yours in return. it doesn't matter, at one point you going to stand up. i know that for a fact upon i have tried and done it. if i made jimmy carter dance, can i make anybody dance. tavis: except chris. >> dancing on the aisle and did not come on stage. tavis: you had jimmy carter dancing? >> with his wife and he got the peace prize and we were there
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and i sung the song you just see and next to him was the prime minister of norway. he was a bishop and he was like this. right and you have the carter couple going, grooving it. that's what i'm talking about. tavis: i would love to see that, that would be -- >> you have it. tavis: i got to find the tape. >> it is on a & e. tavis: i love to say -- to see that. what does this mean? >> beauty in the human beings, the beauty we're born with that we don't see that much around us. and we are surrounded by negativity, and -- the pity we hold, and music taught me the beauty. not to judge people but what they have to give me. if you stupid i walk away. i don't want to waste my time.
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it is something interesting that we could share together. it can be music. it can be painting, it can be book, it can be anything. as far as youee humanly we connect. and i'm ready. tavis: speaking of connecting to human beings around the world, you are celebrated around the world for your music coming out of west africa. what is it about your sound and your stylings that you think connects universally? >> the truth of my soul. because as my mmm used to say, once you wish that page, there's no double guessing anymore. you get this, and you got to be nake spiritually. you got to be able to, not to be afraid, to show that you're fragile and strong and that you just a human being and talking toer 0 human beings. how can we connect, if your spirit is not open to other people, to feel connected, to recognize themselves in that soul and go wow, and i want to be part of the soul. and every time i finish my show
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and somebody dumb and say, you so generous, i'm like why are you saying that? it is not questionable. don't go on stage thinkinging about your bellybutton. you're there because you want to connect to the world. i think that's what people really like about my sound and about coming to my concert, because you can come in completely down to my concert and you get out of that concert with a big smile on your face, because i never let you forget, from the first time, first moment i step on that stage, that every single one in this room is worth it. it is important, and we all have the role to play in the world. even the carpenter is building this planet of ours. we all are important. tavis: you referenced your mother a couple of times in the conversation already. i know from knowing you for so many years, it is impossible to have a conversation with you and not hear you talk about your mother and father. and your father especially, who was supposing you to music when
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you were a child. tell me about your dad. >> he was a wonderful man, every african girl, if that girl can have a father, that's a big supporter of her, she could move mountains and go beyond. that's why i am where i am. my father believed in one thing, education. he always tell us, your ultimate weapon is your brain. and use it, because if you don't come to an agreement with somebody, by arguing, by exchanging point of view, not in hate, not in violence but just arguing to find a solution together, and you have to come to fight, you have both lost. every war that we have fought in the history of human kind just proves how weak we were and how not intelligent we were. so my dad -- he's that type of man. sometimes they do things with my mom and we were like we don't
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want to see this, something is played and my dad would come from work and say, that's my song. and he's like yvonne, can we dance? and he she says, frank what is wrong with you? >> he says i want to dance. and she says, my food is burning. he he said, let's dance first. and that's my father. and he told my brothers, all of them, seven of them, if one day you raise a hand on a woman, you never come back to this house, you no longer my child and he said to the man and my three girls, you hit my daughter, nobody can be in the hole of evil, i'm going to get it and increase you and take my child out. that's my tad. and stand up for me. he produce my first concert when i did my first album in 1981 and the hokal promoter said to my dad, two weeks prior to the show, i don't think i want to invest in your daughter, she's
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too little, nobody see her on stage. he said, what that got to do, the size of somebody. i used to be -- or do you want to just pull out? he said, don't invest. and from then on their friendship stuck. my father was retired, he took his money of retirement and never participated show. he doesn't know. he went and asked question around and do that. and i still have it in my house. this is the deal, if i do this concert, if you lose money, it means we won't have prrp meal for three months. you already for this? we look at each other, yeah. tavis: if this tanks, we ain't eating for three months. >> absolute my. tavis: you all signed pup you have up. >> 14r507ks hot water and tea and bread, we be cool. weate ate it for breakfast and
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lunch and dinner. because of the sponsor pulled out when the promoter pull out. we lost the money. but it opened me up outside to the rest of africa, that's where it picked up my international career started at this moment because my father make the point. my daughter she's talented and no one going to stop me from believing in her. that's daddy. tavis: how did it aid and abet, and help your artistry to know that your father supported you that way, your mother did and your brothers? your family sacrificed for three months, all standing behind you for one concert. that made you feel like. >> it made me feel empowered and in my mind, because of the stage i always pray. i say, i didn't ask for this voice. that's my prayer to god. you give me this voice and make me touch people's soul as much as i can. and two, three, four, it doesn't matter the number.
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let me touch people and i went on stage and i was like, man, i'm going to kill this pitch today. you don't believe me because i'm pettitte, wait till i knock you off. my brother and sister and mother, and my mom used to do my costumes and like, what is new? i'm like rage, i got to prove that he's in the wrong. and we came back from there and we drove back home and we all silent lend in the car when we driving back home and my dad just turned around me and said, you know that you were born for this, right? you something else. and i went back and played for the first time, after 14 years of it in 1996, at the big stadium in my country, my hometown. and i'm never going to forget my father. he was sitting down like that, frozen, the whole concert and
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prayed 0 me that something play go wrong, and being a dad, and you can see every song, she's -- the eyes of my dad, because finally that promoter is still alive today and he was at the she and my father was sitting not far from him. he did not look at him for one second. tavis: that story came full circle. >> my dad was so happy, my dad said, i can die happy now. i told him, don't talk about dying. one thing he say before he passed away, whatever outcome of my disease, and i -- and it comes at end of march. and he did heave a minnesota. and i went to see him ten days before he pass ad way and he saw me coming and i know you to, what are you doing here? my dad had just came to see me. he says, huh, i heard you win a grahammy. he said yes. and he goes, what is a grammy
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anyway? and i was so stupid, i for the to bring the gammy to my tad. he wanted to see it so badly & forgot it. i explained to him what it was. that a gramry, rewards you for your work that you do in the music. and he was silent for a moment and he goes, he always find something to make you laugh. my dad amazing. he go home, so finally, you find a place on this earth where they recognize talent, right? >> i'm like, dad. come on. he was barely talking. and he -- he laughed. he's doing good. and then he said, when are you going to bring the grammy to me? i said, next time i come around. he said don't cancel anything to come and see me, you born for this, you start singing in my ears before cru talk.
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this is what you came on earth to do. me i can't wait. whatever happens, if i guy it is only my -- if i die it is only my body. after he pass ad way, he let me see, it is okay to grow up. finally i realized, that i become an adult and my father is no longer going to be here. and can't call him and say, hey, dad, this is that and this and that. and he going to walk me through the problem. it is hard for me to talk about my dad, but he's -- he's a wonderful man. i think in my prayer every day, i wish for every little girl that are porn in africa to have the dad to embrace the realm, not it see them as possessions or property, to give them to early marriage. it breaks my heart when i see young girl, and already have two or three kids and they look like they're 30 years old and married to men that have the age of the
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grandpa. and for me, that is tradition i'm fighting against. the world is moving around and we in africa, we have to evf. that tradition is wrong. it is bad, it has to stop. >> you have a foundation you started for musicians. >> yeah. it is -- it is foundation i put together to help the girls fly. that's why i put butterfly as a symbol of faith, and if you educate the african women, africa is -- africa economy and democracy and everything in africa will just take off. and that's why -- men are soica educated women. >> sfashes in control, they feel comfortable. my mom and dad used to say, my dad specifically used to say, when you love somebody, love is not a jail, you have to set that person free. if that person is happy, you
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happy. and a woman is in the your property. she is your partner in life. and in death. and so that is how, how i wanted the girl to be educated for them to understand that they have rights and that when they become mothers, they make sure that boys and girls are there and go to school. that the home as my brother was taught, taught it respect their sisters. if you respect your sister, boy, you respect your wife. and every woman in the world. 1kwr506 yourtory is so fascinating. we been talking for 15, 20 minutes. i haven't got to the c.d. yet. your personal story is such a beautiful narrative that it is even hard to get to the music but let me jump to the c.d. now bui track number 14 is the -- you smiling already is the first song you saping when you were about six and -- you have thousand put it on this c.d., tell me about -- tell me about
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the song. >> my mom had a theater group and i grew up seeing people coming home and talking and trying to learn the past. what is that? my mom did the costume and write the whole thing and travel around to put in -- in that theater piece, the life of the king, one of our kings call acaba. he had one of the most beautiful girls, a princess. he was jealous like you can't imagine. so he was turning his life of his daughter to hell. the whole piece was about that, it is a long piece and my mom, in africa you do commission, and the wohl place go empty, nobody come back. intermission, no worries. tavis: no intermission. >> i'm just letting y'all know right now. and any tv show in intermission. and now it doesn't work. so she put a ballet to do the intermission, between the ballet, people dance and sing. that's ohio how i start learning
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to dance, she taught me how to dance and i learned all of the lines of the actors and actresses and then, i be like, that's in the the line. my mom is there, can you shut up, please? and that's not the line anyway. >> and i was something else. and i learned every song and the little girl in that place, that use to do sing before the king sit as a judge and judge all of the things that was brought to him. and that girl was there. and i was inside the costume pulling everything left and right, trying everything on. my mmm go, she pulled me and i come out, with all of the clothes on my head. she said you going to sing? i look at my mom, no. she goes uh-huh, she goes no. she serious? by the time i was just doing my if you knowy faces, she grabbed the dress and put on me.
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it fits me perfect. this is a joke. and he come. and i show you something. and -- and i'm going to sit right there and then we arrive right next, behind the curtain and she pushed me in the spotlight. man. the first time ever in my life, i hear all of the bones of my buddy. and music. and i'm never going to be able to do this. you start laughing. the whole public start laughing because of this spotlight on my face. i didn't see how many people are there. and about they have seen them, i never open my mouth i guarantee you that. i go, this is kind of funny, people are laughing, they won't see me. i was saying quick get out of you. i was passing in the song and i come back and say, mom could i sing every night? 1kwr50 [laughter] >> and she said, you want to go there. and i like it, can do i it again? she goes nope. >> and i think it is cool all of
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theories later -- it is on the c.d. >> it is a very important song when you take the history of the kingdom where i come from. and one of our kings was one that created the first female am son warrior. and there was three. and every time they come back from the battle face, that with them, i chat it is their rhythm. and the male, the male, and naked are the way up here and the torso is naked and they put water everywhere and the -- they use the water in the different part of the body to make sound. and that -- and if you see those women dancing, it is like there is no bones in the body. it is sensual and beautiful. what they say when they come back from battle is we invite defwroug celebrate. life wherever you are, you tighten up your belt, coming up, come and join and -- and i add
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this to the song i set. and people from africa, and group from europe and america, and from asia and wherever you are, please join. and only one people. and not two. tavis: we haven't gotten to the bono track. and john legend. and hargrove. >> you going to do what you want to do after that. tavis: diane reeves. and this c.d. is amazing. voferinge everything angelique does is amazing. but oyo is the name of the project. i love talking to you all the time. >> anytime, we have to write a book together about a lot of stuff. tavis: your life ought to be a book. fortunately we left time in the conversation, in the show i should say for music. you ready to sing? >> hell yes. tavis: all right. >> well, guess what? i'm going to put the spotlight on you like your mamma and push you out. a special performance from the
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new c.d., oyo, with angelique kidge joe -- kidjo, stay with us. tavis: from her new c.d., here she is, asexeed by dominique james. good night from l.a. and keep the faith. ♪ [unintelligible]
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[applause] >> thank you. >> for more information on today's show, visit
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