PROM 16: ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO | BBC Proms 2019

Holy smokes, what a party! The “Queen of African Music” bopped and belted like nobody’s business for this late-night Prom, paying tribute to the celebrated salsa songstress Celia Cruz — about as far flung from the world of classical music as it gets. With a five piece rhythm section and three horns, it only took a few songs before we were all on our feet, shaking our booty.

At nearly sixty years old, Kidjo’s vocal is pitch perfect, and she sings like she’s connected to the Earth itself, wild and full-bodied. Dressed in a bright pink, West African-inspired gown and headdress, she kicked, jumped, shimmied and clapped with formidable energy for nigh on an hour and a half.

Thierry Vaton is a phenomenal keyboard player, switching from funkalicious wah-wah clav to airy grand piano clusters with perfect ease. Guest pianist Roberto Fonseca took over for “Toro Mata” and “La Vida es un Carnaval”, delivering some dynamite solos among some classic Cuban broken chords. Magatte Sow hammered out some high-energy rhythms on percussion, with a steal-the-show call-and-response solo with the audience at the finale of “Tumba”.

The Proms bills itself as the greatest classical music festival in the world, with good reason. So why dedicate one of the 75 concerts to contemporary West African salsa fusion? Well for one thing, it introduces the Prommers crowd to a new kind of music, and number two, it brought a few black people to the Proms, which doesn’t happen often. If the point of the Proms is to get you to try something new, then this is a Prom for the ages.

1,350 £6 Promming tickets are available on the day for every performance.

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