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Angelique Kidjo - Celia makes npr's 'Alt.Latino: Year In Music'

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On April 19 2019, Angélique Kidjo released Celia (Verve/Universal Music France), an album that honors Celia Cruz, widely known as "the Queen of Salsa" and the most popular Latin artist of the 20thcentury.  On Celia, Angélique explores the African roots of the Cuban-born Cruz and reimagines 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 Hutchins plus his band Sons of Kemet.   The album made npr's 'Alt.Latino: Year In Music.'

LISTEN TO THE npr: Weekend Edition SEGMENT WITH LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST: below is the transcript

LULU: When Felix Contreras joins us here on WEEKEND EDITION, it is to share new music - cuts you probably haven't heard, often by up-and-coming artists. He hosts NPR Music's Alt.Latino podcast. Well, this week, we are not looking forward. We're looking back. It's just that time of year. Felix, welcome.

CONTRERAS: Yep. Check this out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIMBARA")

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: (Singing in non-English language).

UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: (Singing in non-English language).

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: (Singing in non-English language).

CONTRERAS: Recognize that?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, yeah. I do.

CONTRERAS: This is West African vocalist Angelique Kidjo. She released a tribute album called "Celia." It's an amazing, loving tribute to everyone's favorite Cuban tia, the queen of salsa.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Celia Cruz.

CONTRERAS: There you go. What won me over is how Angelique Kidjo and her musicians and her arrangers Africanized salsa, which already has African roots, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Of course.

CONTRERAS: This track, "Quimbara," which is one of Celia's most well-known songs, is performed in what is known as a 6/8 beat.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIMBARA")

ANGELIQUE KIDJO: (Singing in non-English language).

CONTRERAS: One, two, three, four, five, six. One, two, three, four, five, six. One, two, three, four, five, six. That is a direct reference to the West African roots of salsa. It's where salsa came from. So they're basically taking salsa back to Africa. And the entire album is a genius re-examination of the legacy of Celia Cruz. This was the most amazing, fun thing I heard all year.