Youssou N'Dour

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About Youssou N'Dour

Youssou N’Dour’s stature as an Afropop icon is so immense that his native Senegal once rewarded him with a job as a government minister and presidential advisor. In a career that stretches back to the ’70s, N’Dour’s raspy, powerful, instantly recognizable voice has served as the centerpiece to more than three dozen albums as well as an entire genre of music: mbalax, a glossy fusion of Western funk, Afro-Cuban pop, and limber sabar drumming from Wolof tradition. Born in Dakar in 1959, he was just 12 years old when he started performing live and was still a teen when he joined Star Band and later Étoile de Dakar, pioneering staples of the capital’s nightclub scene. After releasing a string of internationally successful solo efforts in the ’80s, N’Dour scored his biggest hit in 1994 with the luminous synth-pop duet “7 Seconds” (featuring Swedish songwriter Neneh Cherry). He boldly explored Arabic music and Islamic themes on his Grammy-winning 2004 effort, Egypt, and over the years N’Dour has continued to find new avenues for creative expression and outspoken activism.

Dakar, Senegal
October 1, 1959
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