On June 18, 2022 at the Accor Arena in Paris, the illustrious Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour will revitalize the Super Étoile de Dakar, during a scintillating evening that the pandemic had tarnished. The Grand Bal is back and this annual event, which thousands of aficionados have fervently acclaimed for 20 years, is an opportunity to celebrate unity and harmony between peoples. Spectators from all walks of life come together each time the master of ceremonies invites his artist friends to join him on stage. There is no doubt that this musical and summer communion will bring comfort and hope to all those who will be present to dance and vibrate in unison to a universal repertoire.
From the RFI studios in Dakar, Youssou N’Dour returns this week to a few highlights of his epic. If his last album, Mbalax, has aroused the interest of his admirers across the planet, it is not only because he identifies a heritage and traditions. It is the fruit of a long journey that Youssou N’Dour can legitimately claim. For 40 years, his commitments and open-mindedness have fueled our own altruism. How not to remember his humanitarian struggles, his natural activism, his efforts to make the voice of reason heard. He does not hide his pride in having participated, at only 29 years old, in the gigantic international tour which in 1988 brought together artists as diverse as Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen or Tracy Chapman.
Youssou N’Dour in the RFI studios in Dakar.
The destiny of Youssou N’Dour is rich and intense. Like any artist, he experienced upheavals, joys and sorrows, moments of glory and doubt, but his consistency gives him undeniable credibility. Revitalizing the Dakar Super Star certainly brings back memories, appeals to nostalgia, but symbolizes the longevity of an artist who watches, amused, the passage of time and tirelessly continues to challenge himself. Ears wide open, he misses no opportunity to support the young shoots. The pandemic obviously slowed the pace of his many activities, but it was also a useful break after decades of musical frenzy. Youssou N’Dour concocted in the silence and tranquility of his confinement the album Mbalax and, no doubt, was already thinking about what would happen next. Always driven by the desire to undertake, he could not just wait, he had to consider the future.
Amnesty concert in Philadelphia, September 19, 1988, with Joan Baez, Youssou N’Dour, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman, Sting and Bruce Springsteen.
This future is our present today and the Grand Ball is one of its most joyful manifestations. Once again, by the very admission of its instigator, confirmed artists and newcomers will share moments of sincere complicity in front of an audience that he hopes will be thrilled. The call of June 18 will be, this year, that of Youssou N’Dour and there is no doubt that many of us will be present.
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The Grand Ball by Youssou N’Dour
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