Five-time Grammy Award winner Angélique Kidjo is one of the greatest artists in international music today, a creative force with sixteen albums to her name. Time Magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”, and named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world for 2021. The BBC has included her in its list of the continent’s 50 most iconic figures, and in 2011 The Guardian listed her as one of their Top 100 Most Inspiring Women in the World. Forbes Magazine has ranked Angelique as the first woman in their list of the Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa. She is the recent recipient of the prestigious 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the 2016 Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award, the 2018 German Sustainability Award, the 2023 Vilcek Prize in Music, and the 2023 Polar Music Prize.
As a performer, her striking voice, stage presence and fluency in multiple cultures and languages have won respect from her peers and expanded her following across national borders. Kidjo has cross-pollinated the West African traditions of her childhood in Benin with elements of American R&B, funk and jazz, as well as influences from Europe and Latin America.
Nearly sixty years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, his hometown, Grammy© nominated pianist Monty Alexander is an American classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. A perennial favorite at Jazz festivals and venues worldwide and at the Montreux Jazz Festival where he has appeared 23 times since 1976, his spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.”
In the course of any given performance, Alexander applies those aesthetics to a repertoire spanning a broad range of jazz and Jamaican musical expressions—the American songbook and the blues, gospel and bebop, calypso and reggae. Documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), the Jamaican government designated Alexander Commander in the Order of Distinction in 2000 and conferred on him the national honor of the Order of Jamaica in 2022 for “Sterling Contributions to the Promotions of Jamaican Music and the Jazz Genre Interpretations Globally”. In 2018 the University of The West Indies bestowed him with an honorary doctorate (DLitt) in recognition of his accomplishments.
From his beginnings as one of Chicago’s most thrilling young trumpeters, to his current status as an internationally renowned musician, composer and bandleader, Marquis Hill has worked tirelessly to break down the barriers that divide musical genres. Contemporary and classic jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Chicago house, neo-soul—to Hill, they’re all essential elements of the profound African-American creative heritage he’s a part of. “It all comes from the same tree,” he says. “They simply blossomed from different branches.”
That mission to bring styles together, complemented by Hill’s absolute mastery of his instrument, is a through line connecting his many achievements. It can be heard on his latest album, Modern Flows Vol. II, with its seamless blend of jazz interplay, hip-hop-infused rhythms and socially conscious spoken-word. It marks the four records Hill self-released before November of 2014, when he won the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz competition and became a presence on the global scene virtually overnight. And it defines the revelatory live dates by Hill’s longtime working group, the Blacktet, which the Chicago Tribune called “a remarkably polished, immensely attractive ensemble.”
The “Boysie” Lowery Living Jazz Residency is a two-week artist residency created to provide space to grow for the next generation of jazz artists who are both composers and performers. Residents will experience an intense learning experience designed to help them find their sound, mature as musicians, and make lasting connections with like-minded peers. Cityfest’s summer jazz residency received program development guidance from John F. Kennedy Center’s prestigious international jazz program – the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead project. Program sessions are led by the faculty who are selected from the rich pool of talented music professionals who reside, teach and work in the mid-Atlantic region.