I was not in good mood last week after receiving some bad news about my work (will explain another time).
I went to the show with three Italian friends. I have never seen Kidjo in concert but have a few of her CDs.
At first everyone was sitting down, into the music but no dancing or anything. This space is similar to New York's Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center.
Kidjo said, "I can't believe this is Rome. What's going on here? Don't be shy." During the next song a group of people went up front, started dancing and that was it.
The rest of the night we did not sit down. Kidjo stepped off the stage and went into the audience with her mike. Later she invited Carmen Consoli (an Italian singer) who was in the audience, up to sing Aretha Franklin's "Baby, I Love You" with her.
For the last couple of songs, she asked audience members to come up on stage. It was great to see so many children. They were having a ball. She held one girl's hand who seemed a little nervous and the two of them danced.
One of her drummers came out to the center of the stage. A few people, Africans and Italians, busted out with African dance moves. The energy in the auditorium was unreal. It was like we are at a very cool, fun house party.
Her band is tight, her vocals amazing. Her new albums drops this week and she is touring internationally. If Kidjo comes to your city, I highly recommend checking out her concert.
My friends said they had so much fun at the show. We talked about it for the rest of the night. I saw one friend at Capoeira class the next day and he was still talking about it.
Kidgo spoke about the 2010 World Cup and how she was so proud it's going to be on her continent. She said Africa is more than just famine, war, corruption. Kidjo was born in Benin and raised there and in Paris. She sings in English, French and Yoruba.
Before the concert I was thinking what the heck am I doing with my life regarding writing? Why am I writing? Who am I writing for? How do I reconciled what I like to write vs. what sells in Hollywood? How do I make a living in an industry that is not a meritocracy? How do I survive in an industry that is ageist, racist and sexist?
Then two things happened, the concert and Kathryn Bigelow winning the DGA award for Best Director. This is the first time a woman has ever won. And the DGA is the most male-dominated guild in a very male-dominated industry.
Bigelow keeps doing her thing. It wasn't easy for her to find get the money to finance THE HURT LOCKER. The movie made NO money but here it is, still in the Oscar mix, because it's a good film.
Kidjo grew up listening to all types of music thanks to her parents. You hear the influence in her work. When she sings you feel her emotion, energy, spirit. She's not some talentless auto-tune brand.
These two women create what they want to create. It's authentic.
I'm still trying to figure out how to approach my work. I have to find the middle ground between writing the stories I want to tell and making them commercial. In the meantime I need to refocus, recharge and rewrite. I refuse to believe that as an female agent said to her client, a black female writer/director friend of mine, "black women have no value." Yes she was talking about the Hollywood marketplace but I understand why my friend got so upset. Who wants to hear you have no value?