This news planted a big smile on my face this morning. Youssou N’Dour, a man who helped expose me to some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard, has been named the Culture and Tourism minister in Senegal’s new government.
N’Dour, a Grammy-award winner and one of Africa’s most recognized artists, announced his candidacy for February’s presidential elections but his bid was rejected by the country’s constitutional council in late January. That decision, coupled with a ruling that allowed 85-year-old incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade to seek a controversial third term, fueled rising anger in the streets and sparked deadly riots. N’Dour quickly became a voice and face of the opposition and later threw his support behind former Prime Minister Macky Sall in the March run-off election again Wade. Tensions finally eased when Wade conceded defeat to Sall, who took 66 percent of the vote, just hours after the polls closed.
Like Brazilian legend Gilberto Gil, another of my early heroes in ‘World music‘, N’Dour opened my ears and eyes to an entirely new world of music, west African rhythms which themselves were the pivotal roots to so much of the music the world has enjoyed as a consequence of the African diaspora.
The shot above was taken at the Salle des Etoiles in Monaco in November 2009 when I finally got to see N’Dour perform live. He was singing this:
Here are a couple more shots from the same performance; nine in all are on my flickr stream here. To celebrate, I’ve changed the license to Creative Commons/Attribution 3.0, so you’re free to use them non-commercially. (With credit exactly as listed with photos, please.)