Monday, April 19, 2010

Music Video Monday: Youssou N'Dour

This week's music video selection is dedicated to the lady I met last week at the World Affairs Council Oregon -- Young Professionals discussion group. Ever since I discovered the music of Youssou N'Dour in 1994 because of European MTV and radio playing his bilingual duet with Neneh Cherry ("Seven Seconds"), I was struck by his amazing voice. The album the single came from, The Guide (Wommat), was one of those that I just had to buy, based on a single song. The album was a HUGE HIT for me in 1994 (and ranks in my Top Five Favourite Albums of All Time). The album is an incredible mix of pop, Jazz, blues, and African melodies with trilingual singing (French, English, and Woloof). Youssou N'Dour is the biggest artist to emerge from Senegal.

When I first started listening to Youssou N'Dour, I learned that he was the backing vocals in one of Peter Gabriel's most beautiful songs ("In Your Eyes", which is on my short list to be the "First Dance Song" at my wedding someday. Of course, the bride will have a huge say in what "our song" will be, thus why I need to find someone with a similar taste in music!). I had heard about Youssou N'Dour in the late 1980s because of his high profile in Amnesty International's "Human Rights Now!" series of concerts in 1988 (which also included Peter Gabriel, Sting, Tracy Chapman, and Johnny Clegg and Savuka).

Of all the singers I like, I believe that Youssou N'Dour has the most unique voice. Its always easy to recognize and hard to describe. At my last job in Atlanta, I even got one lady interested in his music, who agreed with me that he has the most unique singing voice she has ever heard. He remains as someone I would like to see in concert. However, he only has two or three really good albums and nothing lately. To me, The Guide (Wommat) will remain as one of the most perfect albums ever released. Its that great. I still enjoy listening to this album in the evenings to relax after a stressful day at work. Few albums have the right mix of melancholy and optimism as this one, with an incredible voice to boot.

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