Entertainment, Film and Music


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“[Angélique] embodies her creed that girls can succeed if given a chance…[She] is an inspiration to others with her message that, yes, the sky is the limit.”—Desmond Tutu

“ The only thing bigger than Angélique Kidjo’s voice is her heart.”—Bill Clinton

“…when [Angélique] sees wrong in the world, she works hard, dedicatedly, to change it, with words, with action, and of course with music.”—PRI’s “Afropop Worldwide”

“I like to tell people that if you don’t know Angélique, you haven’t lived because there’s not one person who would be in her presence and not be changed.”—Alicia Keys

“Angélique’s spirit is irrepressible, and she brings life to everything she touches.”—Peter Gabriel

Angélique Kidjo, West African singer, songwriter, activist, UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the Batonga Foundation, receives an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Yale University. The honor was bestowed at the University’s 314th Commencement Exercises, featuring remarks by Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. A total of nine honorary degrees were presented to individuals who have achieved distinction in their respective fields including Jeffrey Friedman, Peter G. Schultz, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dean Kamen, Elon Musk, Janet Yellen, Larry Kramer and Gayatri Spivak. Full details on the honorees may be found here, with additional images and information from the day on the University’s Commencement site and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Since the commencement of 1702, the Yale Corporation has awarded honorary degrees to recognize outstanding achievement. Currently, the honorary degrees awarded annually at the University’s Commencement are the highest honors conferred by Yale. From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Frank Lloyd Wright and Cole Porter, those who have received honorary degrees represent collectively the aspirations of this institution. Recipients over the years have been models of excellence and service to our students, to our graduates, to our community, and to the world. A list of Yale honorary degree recipients since 1702 may be found here.

Kidjo has a long history of global activism and humanitarian work both as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and through her Batonga Foundation, dedicated to the empowerment of young girls in Africa through secondary school and higher education. Her new LP, Sings with the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, is out now via 429 Records, and is winning raves around the world. The Australian calls it “a truly beautiful album…arguably her most ambitious,” praising its “majesty and grandeur” and Kidjo’s “superlative voice,” while MTV Iggy notes that Kidjo “takes on a larger-than- life persona as she performs with the orchestra with confidence and ease.” Produced by Kidjo and husband/long-time production partner Jean Hebrail, the album re-imagines nine classic songs from her expansive repertoire and two new songs from the Eve sessions, the 2014 album that earned Kidjo her second Grammy Award. She is also honored to have received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music.


Angelique Kidjo is a beloved two-time Grammy Award winner, longtime UNICEF goodwill ambassador and a recipient of this year’s Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum. Her accolades span a 20-year discography and thousands of concerts around the world. She has enjoyed a long history of notable collaborations with greats from the jazz and pop worlds including Carlos Santana, Bono, John Legend, Josh Groban, Peter Gabriel, Branford Marsalis, Dianne Reeves, Roy Hargrove and Alicia Keys. In an expansive career marked as much by extraordinary musical achievement as passionate advocacy and philanthropy for her African homeland, Kidjo has found many ways to celebrate the rich, enlightening truth about the continent’s women beyond the media spotlight.

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