Angelique Kidjo. She’s not exactly a household word here, but she’s been called “Africa’s Greatest Living Diva” and “the Undisputed Queen of African Music,” and she’s one of this month’s headliners at San Diego Symphony’s Bayside Summer Nights concert series. Catch her on YouTube, and you’ll want to see her in person on Aug. 13.
Among her influences are Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana, but her style is her own. She sings in Yoruba, Swahili, French and English, mixing AfroBeat and traditional sounds from her native Benin with rock, soul and salsa.
A multiple Grammy-winner, Kidjo has performed with Dr. John (another Bayside headliner), Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra — and Philip Glass has set three of her poems to music. She now lives in Brooklyn, tours widely, recently won raves for a Carnegie Hall concert of Talking Heads songs, and has been honored not only for her music, but for her activism on behalf of UNICEF, OXFAM and African women’s rights.
If you’ve never been to one of the Bayside concerts, you’re in for a treat. The setting is stunning: you go from daylight to sunset to moon-glow overlooking a waterfront panorama, this year’s lineup is more varied then ever, and it’s a perfect way to spend an August evening. Other upcoming attractions include bossa nova king Sergio Mendes (Aug. 6), the one and only Tony Bennett (Aug. 15), and the soulful Commodores (Aug. 26).
There’s also a special salute to Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the musical team behind “Fiddler on the Roof,” featuring the 2016 Tony-nominated Tevye, Danny Burstein — sadly, no relation to me. Besides everyone’s favorite “Fiddler” hits, there will be a selection of songs from lesser-known shows by the late composer Bock and the still-active, 93-year-old lyricist Harnick (Aug. 18 and 19, with post-concert fireworks included).
According to Martha Gilmer, who has been the Symphony’s CEO since 2014: “Last year, attendance at the Bayside series was record-breaking, and ticket sales this year have already exceeded last year’s total! We’ve really stretched the range of artists we’re bringing in, and we’re reaching out to more varied audiences.
“We have a first-class sound system, we’ve enhanced our LED screen so you can have an excellent view no matter where you sit, and we have great food, wine and beer available too. We want to make the whole experience as wonderful as possible.”
IF YOU GO: All concerts take place at the Embarcadero Marina South, gates open at 6 p.m. and concerts start at 7:30 p.m. Bring your own picnic — excluding glass containers and alcoholic beverages — or choose from offerings at the Food and Refreshment Plaza. Tickets at sandiegosymphony.org