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Friday, September 5, 2014

In Context: Youssou NDOUR

Youssou NDOUR comes to the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House from September 12—13. Context is everything, so get even closer to NDOUR with this curated selection of articles, and videos related to the show. For those of you who've already seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

Program Notes

Youssou NDOUR (Pdf)

Watch & Listen

The Nonesuch/BAM Connection (BAM)
BAM and Nonesuch go way back. Bob Hurwitz and David Bither of Nonesuch elaborate.

“Xale Bi,” Youssou NDOUR (YouTube)
Rapid-fire percussion ripples through this track by NDOUR.

“Souvenirs,” Youssou NDOUR (YouTube)
NDOUR takes a selfie in this recent video.

“In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel (YouTube)
NDOUR sang backup on Gabriel’s classic track.

“Youssou NDOUR: The Voice of Senegal” (NPR)
All Songs Considers profiles “a musical chameleon capable of a seductive whisper or a siren's cry.”

"Nelson Mandela," Youssou NDOUR (Montreaux Jazz Festival)
NDOUR pays tribute to the late South African icon.


“A Song and a Prayer” (The Guardian)
A rich profile of the international music star, humanitarian, and one-time politician.

“The Singer Who Changed His Tune” (The Guardian)
NDOUR ran for the Senegalese presidency in 2012.

"The Songs of Senegal" (The New York Times)
A musical tour of NDOUR's home country.

Now your turn . . .

So how did you enjoy the show? Likes? Dislikes? Surprises? Tell us what's on your mind in the comments below.


  1. Youssou NDour at Howard Gillman always warms my heart. Thanks BAM for bringing our Senegalese culture to Brooklyn.

  2. Fabulous concert. Fourth time I've seen N'Dour live in New York and he always rises to the occasion. A lot of energy in the concert hall both on stage and in the audience. Hope to see him again at BAM in future years.

  3. Thanks for bring Youssou to BAM. A magnificent, beautiful, energetic concert with a phenomenal Senagalese and world singer and his incredible band and dancer.

  4. Like many other Senegalese/West African/Diasporan concertgoers angrily noted on their way out of the door, we were disappointed that the concert was cut short. It's difficult enough to deal with the fact that Youssou N'Dour has to dumb down his music and song selections for Western audiences (in effect, making an mbalax concert a "world music" concert), but we support him anyway because he's a true star and a national hero. Youssou Ndour concerts are always a treat, and when you live stateside, they're rare treats. After having bought tickets months in advance, it was really disheartening that he didn't/couldn't even offer the full experience.

    1. Dumb down for Western audience? You ARE in the West. Maybe you should be attacking HIM for a) Coming in LATE 8:07pm THEN leaving at 10:15pm. The Program said 2.5 hours.

  5. Loved it. Youssou's voice gave me goosebumps -- so incredibly expressive and soaring. Many of the songs were joyous sounding anthems. It was impossible to sit still in my seat.

  6. I have never seen anything like it. Never heard Senagalese music, but it comprises so many familiar elements. Amazing. The concert was simply transcendant. Youissou has an incredible vocal range. His songs impart stories of triumph, strife, and courage. He moved us all .We are all better for it. The musicians, dancers, and vocals... all left me in awe. Simply magical. Thank you BAM for bringing us such talent.

  7. Thank You BAM for presenting him in Brooklyn it was a wonderful event .Him and his band and dancer were magnificent I saw him on his first performance in New York many years ago I am glad he is still going strong had a great and moving time

  8. I have lived in New York for nine years and this was by far the best event I've been to at BAM, and I am proud of Brooklyn for hosting this amazing talent. For me the concert was longer than the standard, which I appreciated, though I could have listened to N'Dour all night. His song still fills the air!

  9. It was wonderful to see Youssou N'Dour in person at last, but like another commenter above, I too was disappointed that the concert seemed to be cut short. I was surprised that it felt overly programmed and somewhat bland, lacking the spontaneity that I would have expected. Specifically I waited to no avail for EACH of the brilliant individual musicians to get their moment in the spotlight, especially the two guitarists. But -- glad to have been there at all.

  10. The concert was entertaining, and certainly energetic, but I left feeling somewhat disappointed. The evening had little to do with the West African music I have loved listening to for years, and that I bought a ticket expecting to hear. A person sitting near me said the show could just as well have been at Barclay's Center or Las Vegas! We can't expect artists to remain static in their craft, but last night's concert seemed like a play to broaden N'Dour's appeal to mainstream show-biz audiences, with little concern for his loyalists.

  11. Youssou always delivers ,never fails ,the concert was short but i am happy

  12. Dear all Youssou did a great concert he try to make happy every body we were a multicultural audience but every body were dancing he make a 2 hours concert
    Thanks Bam
    can we have the great NEA jazz musicians of Brooklyn and celebrated there lives

  13. Saturday night's show was wonderful, but also cut short (BAM's pre-show email told us to plan for 2.5 hours, but the show ended rather abruptly after about 2 hours). I had the sense that BAM wasn't prepared for the audience's response--the balcony was literally shaking with all the dancing bodies, ushers were constantly trying to get people out of the aisles, and security got increasingly assertive about escorting (excited/reverent) audience members off the stage.

  14. Great concert but I was hoping that his performance would be a little longer

  15. Was a treat to see N'dour live after all these years. I saw him a number of times in Dakar in '84. I was struck, too, that BAM didn't seem prepared for West African traditions--coming up on the stage, wiping the money on the brow, competitive dance offs. Despite that tension, N'dour had the whole place on its feet for over an hour. Was glad to have been there.

  16. Wonderful concert! Very accessible to this western audience member, and the energy of the Africans in the audience was just great. If it wasn't as authentic an experience for them, I felt as if I got a glimpse into their enthusiasm and great pride in national treasure N'dour. Thanks BAM!

  17. Great to see youssou, but yes BAM (as would be any similar hall) was not prepared for the West African traditions. It is common that audience members climb up on stage to show their appreciation by placing money on the performer's foreheads. The mbalax dancer invites the audience to join him on stage for displays of talented (or spirited) dancing to the saber drumming. Attempted traditional behavior was met with resistance.
    Either security was not alerted to expect such events - or it was decided that they could not occur freely. However it was still a wonderful concert and many got a good glimpse into a slice of West African cultures. My only other question is "where was Jimmy M'baye?"

  18. N-dour is a master performer but the BAM sound system did not match his somewhat brief performance. It often sounded quite muddy and uneven. Shame! We deserve better ...

  19. the concert was good

  20. I was fortunate enough to attend both Friday and Saturday! Both shows were wonderful! In my opinion, Friday was a great world music event and is a testament to the master's skills that he is able to satisfy all tastes. Saturday night was full of ambiance, energetic, exciting, touching, serious all at once! It was wonderful to see the Senegalese community come out in such force to support this icon. On Saturday he drew from that great energy and gave back so much more. I could have watched him perform all night, both nights. Thank you Youssou Ndour. Looking forward to your next time in New York!!

  21. Incredible musicians. Really enjoyed the show overall, but have to say for the price of tickets, BAM's sound system is really really disappointing. I've been to several shows recently at BAM and I've sat in the mezzanine and balcony on different nights. For a venue of this size, the sound in the mezzanine and balcony is unacceptable. It's super muddy and poorly-mixed given there are speakers in the mezzanine section that didn't seem to be in use. BAM, please please please work on improving this for people who buy tickets in the mezzanine and balcony sections. For the kind of money you charge I expect to be able to actually hear the show well.

  22. The concert was good as was the performer. The programme was shorter than advertised. Not sure why. Perhaps BAM is not a good venue? People were dancing in the aisles...a fire hazard.
    However an african cutting short the program????

  23. Thank you BAM for bringing Youssou N'Dour. And thank you Youssou N'Dour. What a treat!

  24. It was hard to enjoy the concert with some guests sitting in other people's seats and refusing to get up -- even when BAM ushers and security asked said individuals to get up. On two separate occasions, brawls dam-near broke out. I paid for orchestra seats. And, truly, it upset us that we had to deal with this. The rude guests disrupted the concert; the equally rude BAM usher disrupted the concert AND all the before mentioned were RUDE to fellow guests AND Mr. NDour. I'll have to re-think before I attend another of his concerts. Because, some of his "followers" need to stay home instead of bringing their lack of manners amongst people who know how to conduct themselves in public. @BAM_Brooklyn

  25. Youssou's performance along with the rest of the band was outstanding. Unfortunately, the sound technician did not appear to be on the same level. Youssou's mike was not adjusted such that he could generally be heard clearly over the band. Attending both shows, I was hoping for something better at the second, to no avail.


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