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Youssou Ndour

Youssou Ndour is a true Renaissance man

Jacob Burkett

Though Youssou may be the most famed vocalist from Africa, it's definitely not all he’s accomplished. As we approach the end of March, which marks Ndour’s debut Sydney Opera House show after a fourteen year gap from visiting Australia, we've taken a snapshot of his career to date. From acting, politics and some inspiring collaborations, the Senegalese singer is one of the most accomplished figures to grace the Concert Hall stage. 

He’s a movie star

Next to a well-renowned career in music, Ndour has dabbled in the art of acting. Starring alongside Benedict Cumberbatch and Ioan Gruffudd, his most recent work was playing Olaudah Equiano in Michael Apted’s 2006 slave trade drama, Amazing Grace

He ran for President

In January 2012, Ndour announced he would run for President of Senegal, taking on Absoulaye Wade. On his own TV station Television Futurus Medias he said, “I’ve travelled the world and been seen by people all over the world and I think I have the ability to govern Senegal. I am the alternative.” He would eventually lose out, but was later appointed as Minister of Culture and Tourism, and now acts as Minister Advisor to the President.

He’s a master songwriter

Ndour is not one to shy away from collaborations. Some of his famous works are with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Sting, Wyclef Jean, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Dido, Bruce Cockburn and Lou Reed.

He has a record label

Why rent and buy when you can do it yourself? By 1991 Youssou had opened his own recording studio and in 1995 followed that up with his own label Jololi, operating out of Dakar.

He wrote a World Cup theme song

Though Senegal are a proud footballing nation, they failed to qualify for the 1998 World Cup in France. They weren’t completely absent though, with Youssou Ndour writing the theme songs for the tournament La cour des grands.

He has a Grammy under his belt

Youssou Ndour has been nominated for three Grammys. In 1993 and 2009 he was nominated but lost out for Best World Music Album. In 2005 he won the Grammy for his record Egypt. Watch the video recording the moment he found out he would be taking home the award.

Along with an honorary doctoral degree from Yale

Never one for slowing down, in 2011 Ndour was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Music from Yale University. Watch him accept his doctorate.

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