Youssou N'Dour was born in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on October 1st, 1959. He got his start in music early, playing percussion and singing with the Star Band, a popular local group, in his teens. After spending the late '70s with the Star Band, he formed the Etoile de Dakar (which would become Super Etolie de Dakar), a group that saw him come into his own as a composer and bandleader. The band became the core figures of Mbalax music, a style combining traditional West African rhythms and vocals with Latin and Caribbean music. As the sound grew, he threw in more westernized rock 'n' roll influence, as well as touches of jazz, soul, and blues to further revolutionize his work.
Describing N'Dour's music isn't easy, as it is extremely eclectic. It is a mixture of West African rhythms, horns fit for Fania Records, intricate percussion, and mild rock influences. Once N'Dour stirs it all up and adds an Island-style loose vibe, it makes for an unexpectedly delicious sound that is meant to be heard live. He has released over 20 albums in his long, illustrious career, garnering him a substantial worldwide fanbase and the distinction of being one of the most popular singers in the whole of Africa. No matter how popular he has become, he continues to maintain a strong dedication to social justice, especially in his home continent.
He continues to make music and collaborate with new artists to this day. He has worked with diverse artists like Nas, Bruce Springsteen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Paul Simon, and Wyclef Jean. He is currently working for advanced, open source health care in Africa.