Sengegalese Music Star Releases Songs About His Islamic Faith

July 1, 2004

Source: The Washington Post

On July 1, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "A few years back, Senegalese music star Youssou N'Dour composed a series of songs celebrating his Islamic faith. He originally wrote the devotional music for his family and friends to listen to during Ramadan but then decided to release it as an album. The events of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath changed his mind. The album 'started when the world was doing a little better, and I refused to issue it when the world was going very, very badly,' N'Dour says, speaking through a translator in the midtown Manhattan offices of Nonesuch, his U.S. record label. Now N'Dour believes the time is right for the world to hear the collection, titled 'Egypt' for its U.S. release. 'People have started to learn so many things,' he says carefully. 'They are starting to respect a little more diversity.' Released last month, 'Egypt' has been greeted with rapturous reviews. The album was recorded in Cairo, where N'Dour collaborated with bandleader Fathy Salama, fusing Senegalese and Egyptian musical elements. N'Dour sings in Wolof, one of many languages spoken in Senegal, but translations are provided, revealing that the songs extoll Senegal's revered Sufi saints and spiritual leaders. In the liner notes, N'Dour is quoted as saying that the album 'praises the tolerance of my religion.'"