We have to be careful of saying ‘our culture’; we are all citizens of this world, and we travel. If you bring music from somewhere, you bring it to your way and say ‘this is what inspired me’. We can’t talk about cultural appropriation.
I am a huge fan of singer, songwriter, activist Angelique Kidjo, but even I was a bit skeptical when I heard she was planning to cover it its entirety the Talking Heads album “Remain in the Light”.
I decided I’d listen to the whole album on my morning walk, and wow—it was beyond amazing!
No, it’s not the Talking Heads, but Kidjo wasn’t trying to duplicate the 1980 masterpiece. Rather, she wanted to capture the essence of the album and relate it to our current global concerns.
Kidjo’s message is clear. We are one people. Yes, we come from different cultures and speak different languages, but we are one, and none of us can thrive if one of us is suffering. She expresses this by masterfully weaving together the Talking Heads’ words and lyrics with her native Yoruba language and the many musical styles—Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Latin, and Congolese Rumba to name a few—that have influenced her.
Kidjo’s album reminded that I am a mixture of so many influences—so many cultures and religions and individuals. I own none of these influences, and whatever I have—whether it be knowledge or recipes or style or traditions or time or wisdom—I want to share it. You give to me; I give to you. I think the world would function much better if we realized that actually we are all appropriating culture. Let’s open our arms, open our eyes, open our hearts, open our windows and let the light in…so that we may remain in the light.