• Youssou N'dour: An African Legend

Written by: Ayomide , Oriowo
2020-08-12T14:09:26.6593726

Once again, a renowned Grammy-winning African legend would be on a Burna Boy album

Last week, the track list for the Burna Boy's upcoming album, Twice as Tall, was released. Names such as Coldplays' Chris Martin, Africa's favourite heartthrob band Sauti Sol and grime sensation, Stormzy, most likely stood out as featured artists on the album. A closer look at the featured artist list sees the name Youssou N'dour, a name that younger music lovers might not be familiar with, but older African music followers might recall and would leave spine tingling nostalgic sensations, reminding of an era dominated by artists like Angelique kidjo, Miriam Makeba, Cheri Samba, Kouyate Sóry.

Twice as Tall

N'dour who is a Senegalese singer, songwriter, actor, businessman and politician who was born in Dakar in 1959. For a man who wears a lot of hats these days, he was at some point one of the most recognizable musical talents out of Africa and till today is one of Africa's most celebrated acts. He boasts of an enviable list of collaborators, among which include Sting, Tracy Chapman, Wyclef Jean, Bruce Springsteen, Akon and Dido.

His sound ranges from sultry, enchanting and endearing to domineering and powerful. A kind of otherworldly aphrodisiac with a tinge of 'ecclesiastism', making his music declaratively prophetic and one to truly savor. A trip around his musical archive would make any artist envious and every music lover salivate at the depth and diversity on display. Whether he is fusing traditional Senegalese sounds or the more contemporary Mbalax with Jazz, Cuban rumba or hip-hop, the resulting African feel and all-round contentment is simply unmatched.

Youssou N'dour on TIME cover

Kick-starting his career at the age of 15 with the band Super Diamono and touring parts of West Africa, he would later go on with other members of this band to form a new band, Etoilede Dakar. From opening his own recording studio to starting his own record label (Jololi) in the 90s, he continued to pull his weight on the African music scene. In 1998, he wrote and performed the official world cup theme song with Axelle Red ('la cour des grands'). He won his first Grammy award (Best Contemporary world Music Album) for his album 'Egypt' in 2005. In 2002, N'dour was honoured with Prince Claus Award, an honorary doctorate degree from Yale in 2011, and he won a share of Sweden’s $150,000 polar music prize for promoting understanding between faiths (N'dour himself being a Muslim) as well as for his music in 2013.

From being a media mogul who owns L'observateur (one of the widest circulating newspapers in Senegal), the radio station RFM and TV station, TFM, to acting in international movies, running for political office (ran for office of the Senegalese presidency) and being a political appointee (minister of tourism), and his activism, he has spent much of his time outside music looking to make a difference and his continued relevance is no mean fit. N'dour has worked extensively with the U.N and amnesty international as a human rights campaigner. Most notably, in opposition of the Iraq war in 2003 and as a symbolic gesture, he cancelled a performance in the U.S in protest of the impending war.

One can only speculate at this point what a song by he and Burna Boy would sound like, but what is without doubt is the soul, style, experienced voice and artistry he would bring to the mic. We can only wait to see.

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