The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Fabrice Mabillot
By Alicia Keys
September 14, 2021 2:31 PM EDT

To be able to witness Angélique Kidjo in her element is a gift. When we were collaborating on a song for her latest album, Mother Nature, it felt both magical and natural—like we were sisters in the studio. She taught me how to dance to African music with her, and would walk me through the steps and rhythms like an absolute firecracker. Her ability to blend cultures, creating a soulful sound that is out of this world, makes working with her and listening to her so special. It doesn’t matter where you are—you hear her, and you become alive. She electrifies people.

Through Mother Nature—which features collaborations with the next generation of African musicians—she continues to uphold her mission of bringing forth incredible people and giving them a chance. It’s meaningful for someone like Angélique to say to a younger artist, “I love you, and you’re amazing. Here’s an opportunity for everyone to hear you.” The grace she exudes toward her fellow creators, and to humankind, is a reflection of her vibrancy, kindness and generosity. Angélique is as real as they come.

Keys is a Grammy-­winning singer and a producer

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