|“I want to use my voice to break the silence of suffering children.” – Youssou N’Dour|
Youssou N’Dour is the innovative Senegalese singer, composer, bandleader and producer who introduced the music of Africa to countless new audiences. Described as one of the world’s greatest singers and labelled “West Africa’s cultural ambassador to the world” (NY Times), Mr. N’Dour was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on 3 April 1991.
Mr. N’Dour is a leader in social advocacy. In 1987, he helped promote an immunization campaign in Senegal by immunizing a child himself. That same year, he attended the first symposium of the organization African Artists and Intellectuals for Child Survival and Development, set up by UNICEF, in Dakar, where he performed in a major concert with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte. The following year, he performed in two large concerts at the organization’s second symposium in Harare, Zimbabwe, benefiting children in armed conflict.
As Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. N’Dour advocates for children at home and abroad, giving several benefit performances and participating in social mobilization and advocacy campaigns. He has been a consistent supporter of the Roll-Back Malaria Partnership, a global initiative launch in 1998 to significantly reduce the number of malaria deaths.
In 2003, the singer created the Youssou N’Dour Foundation (Youth Network for Development) with a mission to improve the lives of African children by creating opportunities for sustainable economic development in families and communities.
Youssou N’Dour was born in 1959 in Dakar. He first performed at age 12, and by his mid-teens he sang regularly with the Star Band, the most successful group in Senegal at that time. In 1979, he formed his own ensemble, the Étoile de Dakar, which in 1981 became the Super Étoile.
Using a unique mix of traditional music and modern instruments, Mr. N’Dour has been a major influence in shaping the sound of modern popular Senegalese music, known as mbalax. He is largely responsible for bringing it to the world stage in a voice that delivers with “subtle prophetic authority” (NY Times). His album Egypt won the 2005 Grammy award for best contemporary world music.