Queen of Sheba

Queen of Sheba

Few people have ever used Yoruba and Fon to as deliciously good effect as Angelique Kidjo, and the veteran singer isn't stopping now. Lulled by the caressing embrace of Ibrahim Maalouf's trumpeting, she saunters through sometimes sorrowful but mostly masterful meandering in Yoruba on Queen of Sheba, their joint album. A collaboration that brings together two celebrated musicians from Africa and the Middle East, the project is as exquisite as its titular monarch, the legendary figure who straddled both regions several millennia ago. Kidjo's piercing vocals reverberate from the tearful "Omije" to "Alikama," where she exalts Solomon as “Eyin L'Oba Jerusalem” (“You are king of Jerusalem”). On “Obinrin,” the storytelling opens with Yoruba numerology, a style more likely to be genial tinkering than poetic coincidence, since the etymology of the word Sheba is linked to the Hebrew number seven.

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