UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Alumnus
Youssou N’Dour, the innovative Senegalese singer, composer, bandleader and producer, introduced the music of Africa to audiences around the globe. Described as one of the world’s greatest singers and, according to the New York Times, “West Africa’s cultural ambassador to the world,” Youssou was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 1991.
In 1987, Youssou performed at the first symposium of African Artists and Intellectuals for Child Survival and Development, organized by UNICEF, alongside UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Harry Belafonte. The following year, he performed in two large concerts at the organization’s second symposium in Zimbabwe, benefiting children in armed conflict.
As Goodwill Ambassador, Youssou advocated for children at home and abroad, giving multiple benefit performances and participating in social mobilization and advocacy campaigns.
In 2003, he created the Youssou N’Dour Foundation (Youth Network for Development) with a mission to improve the lives of African children by opening opportunities in sustainable economic development for families and communities.
Youssou was born in 1959 in Dakar. He first performed at age 12 and, by his mid-teens, was singing regularly with the Star Band, the most successful group in Senegal at the time. In 1979, Youssou formed his own ensemble, Étoile de Dakar, which, in 1981, became Super Étoile de Dakar.