2018: A Year In Food
In 2018, my gym coach assigned me to keep a food blog so he could track my meals. Through developing healthy eating habits to satisfy all of my nutritional needs and a rigorous exercise programme, I lost the 21 kg between January-August 2018 I'd gained on anti-depressants.
I wanted it to be somewhere more private rather than being shoved down people's throats (literally) through Instagram/WhatsApp. Hence I've posted my culinary creations here.
Being vegetarian and/or vegan always presents a challenge in terms of hitting the protein target so this was particularly the most interesting challenge for me.
I made a conscious decision to stop food blogging in 2019 (due to time restraints), but it's useful to have a year's diet documented as a reference and a source of inspiration!
Angelique Kidjo is a prolific and internationally-recognised African music star. Her childhood influences were as diverse as James Brown and Carlos Santana, as well as the music of her native Benin. Appearing onstage for the first time at the age of six, Angelique went on to become one of the most important forces in African music - not to mention one of the most influencial African women, politically and socially, as well as musically. Her music and charismatic stage presence act out a story that interweaves all of these struggles and triumphs, and sets the stage for an incredibly rich celebration of life and living.
The compositions are a melange of driving African and Latin rhythms, with contemporary touches of R&B, soul and jazz; combining effortless rhythmic mastery with lush choral textures and lofty vocals. In their rhythmic, harmonic and textural innovation, the compositions preserve a balance of old and new, a reconciliation of past and present.
From the first two songs, I was captivated beyond words. Such a famous and distinguished voice. I have heard her sound so many times - it is that emblazoned in the international music world - but just hearing it live was something really special. The acoustics in the RNCM Theatre were crystal clear, and they provided the perfect depth for Angelique to fill with her iconic voice, which soared freely over a sonic vista of piano, guitar, bass, drums and percussion and the choir providing a shimmering sheen of richness. It was a real luxury within which to bathe my ears and mind.
The Manchester World Voices Choir, featuring singers from around Manchester brought together for this concert, was breathtaking, especially during its opening number 'Fifa'. All around me, I felt the audience mood lifted and transformed. The choir really added that magical ingredient to the evening - every individual moving with the spirit of the collective.
The band, consisting of Thierry Vaton (piano), Lucian Zerrad (guitar), Rody Cereyon (bass), Gregory Louis (drums) and Charly Obin Yapi (percussion) moved effortlessly as a unit. Angelique would sometimes bring one band member out into the forefront to become the primary musical feature, which would serve to highlight their creative accomplishment and add different dimensions to the show.
Angelique herself is an immanently musical person, through and through, right from the very intimate vocal solo at the beginning of the concert, to her climactic moments with the full band and choir; she captures your heart, and every cell in her being radiating warmth. Her charismatic delivery was an energetic outpouring of colour and personality. Angelique moves with such vivacity and flourish. What immediately struck me is the integrity of her music; music that is so honest, true to the heart and full of humanity - music that does not try too hard to be one thing or another, but music that just IS. Angelique has had an incredibly unique, turbulent life as representative of many women in Africa, and her music is as much an unfolding story, taking you every step of the way. Yet even through all of these experiences, Angelique retains an integral youthfulness, enthusiasm, warmth and zest for life, which is at once inspiring and uplifting. A true artist of the world and fulfilling musical landmark.
Angelique Kidjo will be performing with the band and the choir at BT River of Music in London on Saturday 21 July. Another glorious opportunity to catch this significant musical convergence.
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have their reward.