Born in Benin in 1960, she moved to Paris in 1983 to study jazz, beginning her career as a backing singer. In 1991 she released her first album, Logozo, and has since made nine further records fusing jazz, Afropop, Latin, funk, gospel, blues, zouk and western pop; Djin Djin, produced by Tony Visconti, won her a Grammy award in 2008.
Kidjo has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2002, and is co-founder of the Batonga Foundation, dedicated to securing secondary education for African girls. She has performed solo at the Carnegie Hall and the Royal Albert Hall, and at many notable concerts worldwide, including Africa Live, Live 8, Live Earth and the Peace Ball held for Barack Obama's inauguration in 2009.
She sang with Peter Gabriel at a 2003 concert for Nelson Mandela's 46664 foundation and performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics.