Youssou N’Dour: Set

1 Oct

Youssou N'Dour's album Joko

Senegal's Youssou N'Dour and his 2000 album Joko (The Link)

Birthday greetings to Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who celebrates No. 52 today.

More than acknowledgement, N’Dour would probably prefer recognition or help for his current project: helping to ease the current famine in Somalia. Because if N’Dour is little known in North America, he is, as Rolling Stone called him in 2004, “perhaps the most famous singer alive,” in Africa. Though N’Dour’s native Senegal is Africa’s westernmost country and Somalia its easternmost, fame brings responsibility.

“From Dakar to Djibouti, the new Africa must unite as one, our people across the continent, and hold each other, our leaders and the international community accountable for inaction – and bring about urgent action,” N’Dour said late last month, according to the

N’Dour’s action will include a concert early next year in Kenya, with various African artists and Ireland’s Bono. At that venue, there’s no question who the No. 1 attraction will be.

N’Dour’s music includes many cultures, in part because so many were absorbed into Senegal by its location and history; it was a French colony immediately before gaining independence in 1960.

“Youssou N’Dour is the voice of modern Africa-poet, groove merchant and symbol of a young self-aware African generation,” read the liner notes, which seem almost prophetic today, to N’Dour’s 1990 album Set. “Youssou now reaches an audience other African performers could not. With this unprecedented exposure comes a big responsibility for this most charismatic of the new World Musicians — to strike in us all, better than any politician or conventional moralist, the chords of mutual recognition so essential to the future of the planet. Youssou’s music uncannily beckons us to think globally while we dance locally.”

Below a 2002 live version to the title track of N’Dour’s album Set:



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