Egypt

Egypt

by Youssou N'Dour
     
 

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Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour was so incensed with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that he canceled his American tour. The experience was a galvanizing one for the singer, however, and his empathy for his Islamic brethren spilled over into a work that's no less beautiful for being profoundly political. N'Dour aimed to stress the beauty and openness of his faith and

Overview

Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour was so incensed with the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that he canceled his American tour. The experience was a galvanizing one for the singer, however, and his empathy for his Islamic brethren spilled over into a work that's no less beautiful for being profoundly political. N'Dour aimed to stress the beauty and openness of his faith and does so by setting the devotional prayers of Senegal's Muslims to classical Egyptian film music. It's a surprising move all around, but one that bears unexpected fruit. Musically, Egypt is glorious: Where, in the past, N'Dour's crossover sensibilities have often led him to inflated global pop, this bridge leads to lushly recorded strings and Oriental rhythms, lit up by a voice regarded as one of the world's finest. Fans of Arab music from the likes of Umm Kulthoum will certainly be intrigued by N'Dour's take, delivered in Wolof and other Senegalese languages. Egypt is also rewarding for the light it sheds on African Islam. Few are familiar with the parade of saints, caliphs, and martyrs that are praised on these songs. Cheikh Amadou Bamba is one figure familiar to fans of the Orchestra Baobab and Cheikh Lo, who have praised him in hit songs. Cheikh Ibra Fall, a follower of Bamba, is another subject; he was the founder of the Mouride sect (Lo is one), the dreadlocked Africans whose patchwork clothing is a sign of their mystical beliefs. The sharp focus and impeccable performances of Egypt make it a standout in N'Dour's catalog, although longtime fans will likely be mystified by this atypical offering. Be warned that the driving mbalax rhythms of N'Dour's Afropop are nowhere on this album, instead, Egypt is a humble showcase for a gifted vocalist's devotion.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Youssou N'Dour's Egypt is a radical change of pace for the Senegalese singer/songwriter. Throughout his career, N'Dour has adapted his indigenous musical heritage to the pop sounds of world music. On Egypt, N'Dour and his quartet have created rhythmic and melodic arrangements for material from the Arabic world. Joining N'Dour's quartet for this recording is the renowned Fathy Salama Orchestra, a 14-piece traditional music ensemble. The material is traditional Sufi music, and N'Dour has applied, via the score's director, Hassan Khaleel, Senegalese rhythms and folk melodies to exist in concert with the time-honored originals. The effect is nothing less than startling. N'Dour goes deep into the heart of Senegalese Sufism, tracing the lines where terrains, spiritual practices, and of course musical ideas meet, meld, and change. Unlike his previous recordings, the organic and sacred character of this music seems to stand outside of time and space; it wails and warbles, croons and groans. It is the music of joy and reverence and, as it bridges the various aspects of Islamic cultural traditions, one hopes it can create, via the sheer beauty of its sound and the translation of its lyrics, a portrait of a world that is far different from the one portrayed by Western media constructs.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/08/2004
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597969429
catalogNumber:
79694
Rank:
78437

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Youssou N'Dour   Primary Artist,Vocals
Mbaye Dieye Faye   Percussion
Kabou Gueye   Background Vocals
Fathy Salama   Conductor
Mamdouh el Gebaly   Oud
Ayman Sedky   Doholla
Yaser Mal Allah   Percussion
Beugue Fallou Ensemble   Percussion,Background Vocals
Mostafa Abd El Azeez   Arghoul
Ahmed El Gazar   Sagat
Nidhat Adb El Sameeh   Violin
Bisheer Ewees   Violin (Bass)
Souka Guèye   Background Vocals
Hasaneen Hindy   Mizmar
Yuri Kablotsky   Violin
Babou Laye   Kora
Ramadan Mansour   Tabla
Fathy Salama Orchestra   Various
Mama Gueye   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Youssou N'Dour   Composer,Producer,English Translations,Audio Production
Alaa el Kashief   Engineer
Fathy Salama   Arranger,Producer,Audio Production
Thomas Rome   English Translations
Ndiaga Ndour   Engineer
Segui Niang   Engineer
Mamdou Dia   Author
Cheikh Amala Diallo   English Translations
Abdouf Aziz Mbaye   English Translations
Fiona McLaughlin   English Translations
Khalid Raaouf   Engineer
Shibi   Contributor
Cheikh Thiam   English Translations

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