Youssou N'Dour Born (1959-10-01) 1 October 1959 (age 53) Origin Dakar, Senegal Genres Mbalax Occupations Singer, percussionist Years active 1970s-present Labels Chaos Recordings, Real World Records, Nonesuch Records Website youssou.com Youssou N'Dour (French pronunciation: jusu nˈduʁ; 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. Since April 2012, he has been Senegal's Minister of Tourism and Culture. N'Dour helped to develop a style of popular Senegalese music known in the Serer language as mbalax, which derives from the conservative Serer music tradition of "Njuup". He is the subject of the award-winning films Return to Goree directed by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud and Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, which were released around the world. Life edit: N'Dour was born in Dakar to 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. Career edit: In 1979, he formed his own ensemble, the Étoile de Dakar. His early work with the group was in the Latin style 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, Xippi, 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,Axelle Red,Sting,Alan Stivell,Bran Van 3000,Neneh Cherry,Wyclef Jean,Paul Simon,Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Branford Marsalis, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dido and others. The New York Times described his voice as an "arresting tenor, a supple weapon deployed with prophetic authority". 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". 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. 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. Activism edit: N'Dour was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on 16 October 2000. 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. 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. In 2007 he became a council member of the World Future Council. In 2008, he joined the Fondation Chirac's honour committee. The same year, Youssou N'Dour's microfinance organization named Birima (Birima is also a song's title) was launched with the collaboration of Benetton United Colors. In 2009, he released his song "Wake Up (It's Africa Calling)" under a 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. Politics edit: At the beginning of 2012, he entered the race for the presidency of Senegal for the 2012 presidential election, competing against Abdoulaye Wade. However, he was disqualified from running in the election over the legitimacy of the signatures he had collected to endorse his campaign. 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.