Youssou N'dour - Nothing's in vain - 04 Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Telegraph - Supernatural superstar; Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour has returned to his roots and rediscovered the spirit he lost in Western music - Mark Hudson 12:01AM GMT 12 Dec 2002
While Keita and many other African musicians who decamped to the capitals of Europe during the 1980s are now moving back, N'Dour has always based himself in Dakar, Senegal's vibrant capital. "I have to be in Dakar! Even if I write a song in New York, it will tell me something new when I play it in Dakar. And now I have my own studio and the internet, I can do anything in Dakar I could do anywhere in the world."
His studio, record label and cassette plant account for 50 per cent of Senegal's thriving music industry. He also owns a radio station and the country's top nightclub. Since forming his own band at the age of 22, he has kept a tight control on his affairs.
"When I'm in Senegal, I can't just sit in isolation making music. People need my help. And the Senegalese people helped create my music. It comes from the country itself. So these business activities are a way of putting something back."
In failing to become the African Bob Marley, N'Dour has become something much more interesting - not just "African artist of the 20th century", as he was voted by one magazine, but world music's first real superstar. Back in the 1980s, he spoke of world music as a utopian cause that would promote understanding and harmony. Does he have any use for the concept now?
"World music is about taking things from different places and bringing them together - which is great. But I don't see my new album as world music. It's just African music - modern African music!"
Modern music - but its roots run deep. Up on stage in Ramonville, the great barrage of sound falls away, and there's just a keyboard, a subdued percussive rattle and N'Dour's voice raised in shining, invocatory tones. As I listen, I remember that, when I lived in Gambia, it was said that N'Dour must have some supernatural power, because, if he sang for you, you'd give him money whether you wanted to or not.
"It's possible," he says when I put this to him. "When I sing about someone - where he comes from, what his grandfather did - the words I use to express that, combined with the music and the sound of my voice, they give that person a vibration. Yes, I have a power. It's called music!"
A description of the experience
Il N'y A Pas D'amour Heureux (There Is No Happy Love)