The mysterious rhythms and melodies which constitute the music of Africa, has been, and continues to be, a vital source of influence and inspiration to the rest of the world. Though African artists have always been active and recognized in their homelands, it was through the phenomenon of what is termed "world music" in the 1980's, that African music reached a global audience. In the forefront of this movement was Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, who transformed the native resonances of the Wolof griots of West Africa into the amalgamated mbalax music he popularized. It proved to be a successful blend of traditional African music played with Western instruments in an innovative style that would turn him into an international superstar.
Though already a sensation throughout West Africa, N'Dour made his recording debut with "Nelson Mandela," in 1986, the year he was invited to perform with his band Super Etoile De Dakar, on Peter Gabriel's So Tour. Fatteliku is the result of the recording made on that tour, one night in Athens, in 1987. From the opening number of "Immigres," N'Dour displays an exceptional vocalizing style that would distinguish him as a riveting performer. His message has been an integral part of his musical persona and this song deals with the situations faced by the African diaspora, at the same time offering hope and encouragement. The band exudes confidence, and it obvious they are well prepared for what would be a historic occasion.
"Kocc Barma," an intense homage to a revered Sengalese philosopher, is a perfect example of the mbalax style which accents the sabar drumming technique combined with call and response. "Nelson Mandela," is a somber, yet vibrant, tribute to the great South African leader, who at the time was still imprisoned for his anti- apartheid beliefs. N'Dour was an outspoken artist who lashed out about injustices in Africa, and this would remain constant throughout his career. The pace is dramatically accelerated in "Ndobine," which is halfway through the set and the band is emotionally exploding on stage. There is some fine saxophone work by Thierno Koite, as well as intense accenting by the guitarists, all propelled by a dynamic percussive momentum. "Sama Dom/My Daughter," is an ode to his child, and employs a polyrhythmic Caribbean reggae flair.
The nights host Peter Gabriel, brings N'Dour out for the finale "In Your Eyes," and when he starts to sing it takes the song into another dimension. As he was a guest, his ability to know when to hold back and when to soar is the highlighted aspect of this gifted performer. This record was released on Gabriel's Real World label, which he has so diligently nurtured and focused on exhibiting artists worthy of acknowledgment. Though Youssou N'Dour now has over thirty albums, numerous awards, and has garnered a respected position both in Senegal and abroad, Fatteliku captures the young man in his prime, when the legend was created.
Immigres; Kocc Barma; Nelosn Mandela; Ndobine; Sama Dom/My Daughter; In
Youssou N’Dour: lead vocals; Ousseynou Ndiaye: backing vocals; Falilou
Niang Galass: drums; Babacar Mbaye Dieye Faye: percussion; Assane
Thiam: talking drum; Thierno Koite: saxophone; Mamadou Mbaye: lead
guitar; Pape Oumar Ngom: rhythm guitar; Habib Faye: bass guitar,
guitar; Fatou Marietou Koita: dancer; Peter Gabriel: vocal (6); Manu
Katche: drums (6); Tony Levin: bass, backing vocals (6); David Rhodes:
guitar (6); David Sancious: keyboards (6).
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