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Youssou N'Dour

Youssou N'Dour
N'Dour in Warsaw on 13 September 2009
Minister of Tourism and Culture of Senegal
Assumed office
5 April 2012
Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye
Preceded by Thierno Lo
Personal details
Born (1959-10-01) 1 October 1959
Dakar, Senegal
Religion Islam
Youssou N'Dour
Birth name Youssou Madjiguène N'Dour
Also known as Youssou Ndour
Born (1959-10-01) 1 October 1959
Origin Dakar, Senegal
Genres Mbalax
Occupation(s) Singer, percussionist
Years active 1970s–present
Labels Chaos Recordings
Real World Records
Nonesuch Records
Website .comyoussou

Youssou N'Dour (French pronunciation: ​; born 1 October 1959) is a Senegalese singer, percussionist, songwriter, composer, occasional actor, businessman and a politician. In 2004, Rolling Stone described him as, "perhaps the most famous singer alive" in Senegal and much of Africa.[1] From April 2012 to October 2012, he was Senegal's Minister of Tourism and Culture, and from October 2012 to September 2013, he was Senegal's Minister of Tourism and Leisure.

N'Dour helped to develop a style of popular Senegalese music known in the Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, which were released around the world.


  • Life 1
  • Career 2
  • Activism 3
  • Politics 4
  • Discography 5
    • Albums 5.1
    • Compilation albums 5.2
    • Singles 5.3
  • Films 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


N'Dour was born in Dakar to a Wolof mother and a Serer father. At age 12, he began to perform and within a few years was performing regularly with the Star Band, Dakar's most popular group during the early 1970s. Several members of the Star Band joined Orchestra Baobab about that time.

Despite N'Dour's maternal connection to the traditional griot caste, he was not raised in that tradition, which he learned instead from his siblings. His parents' world view encouraged a modern outlook, leaving him open to two cultures and thereby inspiring N'Dour's identity as a modern griot.


In 1979, he formed his own ensemble, the Étoile de Dakar. His early work with the group, in the Latin style, was popular all over Africa during that time. In the 1980s, he developed a unique sound with his ultimate group, Super Étoile de Dakar featuring Jimi Mbaye on guitar, bassist Habib Faye, and tama (talking drum) player Assane Thiam.

By 1991 he had opened his own recording studio, and, by 1995, his own record label, Jololi.

N'Dour is one of the most celebrated African musicians in history. His mix of traditional Senegalese mbalax with eclectic influences ranging from Cuban rumba to hip hop, jazz and soul won him an international fan base of millions. In the West, N'Dour collaborated with Peter Gabriel,[3] Axelle Red,[4] Sting,[5] Alan Stivell,[6] Bran Van 3000,[7] Neneh Cherry,[8] Wyclef Jean,[5] Paul Simon,[8] Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, James Newton Howard, Branford Marsalis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dido, Lou Reed, Bruce Cockburn and others.

The New York Times described his voice as an "arresting tenor, a supple weapon deployed with prophetic authority".[9] N'Dour's work absorbed the entire Senegalese musical spectrum, often filtered through the lens of genre-defying rock or pop music from outside Senegalese culture.

In July 1993, an African opera composed by N'Dour premiered at the Opéra Garnier for the French Festival Paris quartier d'été.

He wrote and performed the official anthem of the 1998 FIFA World Cup with Axelle Red "La Cour des Grands".[4]

Folk Roots magazine described him as the African Artist of the Century. He toured internationally for thirty years. He won his first American Grammy Award (best contemporary world music album) for his CD Egypt in 2005.

He is the proprietor of L'Observateur, one of the widest-circulation newspapers in Senegal, the radio station RFM (Radio Future Medias) and the TV channel TFM.

In 2006, N'Dour played the role of the African-British abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in the movie Amazing Grace, which chronicled the efforts of William Wilberforce to end slavery in the British Empire.[10]

In 2008, N'Dour offered one of his compositions, Bébé, for the French singer Cynthia Brown.

In 2011, N'Dour was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Music from Yale University.[11]

In 2013, N'Dour won a share of Sweden's $150,000 Polar music prize for promoting understanding between faiths as well as for his music.[12]


N'Dour was nominated Creative Commons license to help IntraHealth International in their IntraHealth Open campaign to bring open source health applications to Africa. The song was remixed by a variety of artists including Nas, Peter Buck of R.E.M..., and Duncan Sheik to help raise money for the campaign.[17]


At the beginning of 2012, he entered the race for the presidency of Senegal for the 2012 presidential election, competing against Abdoulaye Wade.[18][19] However, he was disqualified from running in the election over the legitimacy of the signatures he had collected to endorse his campaign.[20]

In April 2012 it was announced that N'dour has been appointed tourism and culture minister in the cabinet of new Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye.[21]


N'Dour at the 2010 Festival de Cornouaille at Quimper, France.


  • Bitim Rew (1984)
  • Nelson Mandela (1986)
  • Immigrés (1988)
  • The Lion (1989)
  • Set (1990)
  • Eyes Open (1992)
  • The Guide (Wommat) (1994)
  • Gainde – Voices from the Heart of Africa (1995)
  • Djamil (1996) – anthology
  • Lii (1996)
  • St. Louis (1997)

Inedits 84–85 (1997) – compilation

  • Special Fin D'annee Plus (1999)
  • Le Grand Bal a Evry" (1999)
  • Rewmi (1999)
  • Joko: From Village To Town (2000)
  • Joko: The Link (2000)
  • Le Grand Bal (2000)
  • Batay (2001)
  • Le Grand Bal a Bercy (2001)
  • Nothing's In Vain (Coono Du Réér) (2002)
  • Youssou N'Dour and His Friends (2002)
  • Kirikou (2004)
  • Egypt (2004)
  • Jigeen Gni (2005)
  • Alsaama Day (2007)
  • Rokku Mi Rokka (2007) – No. 30 in Rolling Stone‍ '​s Top 50 Albums of 2007.[22]
  • Special Fin D'annee: Salagne-Salagne (2009)
  • Dakar – Kingston (2010)
  • I Bring What I Love" (2010)
  • Mbalakh Dafay Wakh (2011)
  • Fatteliku (2014)

Compilation albums

  • The Best Of Youssou N'Dour (1995)
  • Euleek Sibir with Omar Pene (You et Pene) (1996)
  • Immigrés/Bitim Rew (1997)
  • Best of the 80's (1998)
  • Hey You: The Essential Collection 1988–1990 (1998)
  • Birth Of A Star (2001)
  • The Rough Guide To Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar (2002)
  • 7 Seconds: The Best Of Youssou N'Dour (Remastered) (2004)
  • Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur — John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" (2007)


Year Single Peak chart positions Album

US Alt Rock
1985 "The Rubberband Man / Nelson Mandela" Nelson Mandela
1988 "Shango Affair" Black Mic Mac 2 OST
1989 "Shakin' the Tree" (with Peter Gabriel) 61 9 The Lion
"The Lion / Gaïende"
1990 "Toxiques" Set
1992 "Africa Remembers" Eyes Open
1994 "7 Seconds" (with Neneh Cherry) 3 1 1 3 98 The Guide (Wommat)
"Mame Bamba"
1995 "Undecided" 53 92
"Chimes Of Freedom"
1998 "How Come" (with Canibus) 52 Bulworth OST
"La Cour Des Grands (A Ton Tour De Jouer)" (with Axelle Red) 16 31 official hymn of France '98 Coupe De Monde
1999 "My Hope Is In You" Joko - From Village To Town
2000 "Birima"
2002 "So Many Men" (with Pascal Obispo) 35 27 85 Nothing's In Vain (Coono Du Réér)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Amazing Grace (2006)

Retour à Gorée (2007)

  • As himself, journeying from the island of Gorée to the USA and back, exploring the origins of jazz, which go back to the era of slave trade in Africa, through a concert performed by an international group of artists.[30][31]

Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love (2008)

  • As himself, through the recording of Egypt album and its repercussions.
  • Released in the US on DVD by Oscilloscope Laboratories.


  1. ^ Considine, J. D., and Matos, Michaelangelo, "Biography: Youssou N'Dour", 2004.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ a b
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  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^
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  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Honour Committee of the Fondation Chirac
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ CHRISTGAU, ROBERT; FRICKE, DAVID; HOARD, CHRISTIAN; SHEFFIELD, ROB, "The Top 50 Albums of 2007", 17 December 2007
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ in the San Francisco ChronicleYoussou N'Dour: Return to GoreeA review of , 19 September 2008

External links

  • Youssou N'Dour – official site (French)
  • Youssou N'Dour discography at Discogs
  • Youssou N'Dour at African Music Encyclopedia
  • Youssou N'Dour at AfroWeb
  • Youssou N'Dour interview at Afropop Worldwide, May 2004
  • Youssou N'Dour World Music Legends at
  • Youssou N'Dour article Senegal Superstar Wins Grammy for "Egypt" at World Beat Planet, 16 February 2005
  • Youssou N'Dour article Youssou N'Dour, "Egypt" and Islam on National Public Radio
  • Youssou N'Dour film Youssou N'Dour: I bring what I love at IMDb
  • Youssou N'Dour role in the film Amazing Grace
  • Youssou N'Dour video interview Visions of Youssou N'Dour on Stock Exchange of Visions
  • Youssou N'Dour at IntraHealth Open, featuring N'Dour's track "Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)"
In 2008, he joined the

In 2007 he became a council member of the World Future Council.

In Senegal, N'Dour became a powerful cultural icon, actively involved in social issues. In 1985, he organized a concert for the release of Nelson Mandela. He was a featured performer in the 1988 worldwide Amnesty International Human Rights Now! Tour collaborating with Lou Reed on a version of the Peter Gabriel song Biko which was produced by Richard James Burgess and featured on the Amnesty International benefit album The Secret Policeman's Third Ball. He worked with the United Nations and UNICEF, and he started Project Joko to open internet cafés in Africa and to connect Senegalese communities around the world. He performed in three of the Live 8 concerts (in Live 8 concert, London, Live 8 concert, Paris and at the Live 8 concert, Eden Project in Cornwall) on 2 July 2005, with Dido.[14] He covered John Lennon's "Jealous Guy" for the 2007 CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur. He appeared in a joint Spain-Senegal ad campaign to inform the African public about the dramatic consequences of illegal immigration. N'Dour participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.[15]


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