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African Singer Gets Boost From Groban Association

Of the Oakland Press

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Angelique Kidjo got a prize of her own when she sang at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in December 2002.

It was there the acclaimed singer from Benin met American vocalist Josh Groban, who was just beginning his ascent toward stardom.

“I was surprised to hear him say, ‘I’m a huge fan of your music,’ ” Kidjo, 46, recalls. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was so fl attering.

“So when we started recording this album, we reached out to him and he goes, ‘Sure. I’m coming to New York. Book a studio and we’ll do it.’ And it was just magical.”

The album is Kidjo’s latest, “Djin Djin,” which comes out May 1 and features a duet with Groban — as well as a guitar solo by Carlos Santana — on the Sade song “Pearls.” The friendship also netted Kidjo a spot opening for Groban on his current North American tour, which gives her a chance to get some buzz going for “Djin Djin,” which was produced by rock icon Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex) and also features guest appearances by

Alicia Keys, Peter Gabriel, Joss Stone and Ziggy Marley, as well as covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Ravel’s “Bolero.”

And, not surprisingly, Kidjo — who resides in Brooklyn — can’t wait to start doing her own full-length shows to support the album.

“Right now, we’re just doing a couple of the songs from the album,” she says of her tour with Groban. “It’s only 35 minutes, so there’s not a lot of time. But my shows, I’m going to play the whole album. So I can tell you I can hardly wait to start my shows. I want people to hear the joy I had doing this album.”

Angelique Kidjo opens for Josh Groban at 8 p.m. Friday (Feb. 23rd) at The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.50-$99.50. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www. palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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