The king of mbalax returns

Posted on October 21st, 2013 in Recent posts by .


Words by Bram Posthumous, Photography by Edmond Sadaka

Youssou N’Dour may have lost his job as the minister for tourism in Senegal’s latest cabinet reshuffle this September, but it only appears to have reinvigorated the ‘king of mbalax,’ as he is known back home

Out of the office and back to the international stage, Youssou N’Dour was clearly enjoying himself on his big return show. It was the evening of October 12 and the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy was sold out for his 14th Grand Bal.

The crowd saw a star-studded spectacle with guest appearances of Guinea’s golden voice Sékouba ‘Bambino’ Diabaté and Pape Diouf, the man who is whispered to be the new mbalax king. Best surprise of them all: Senegal’s beloved diva Viviane Chidid, who is as big a star as her former brother-in-law Youssou himself. Of course, these days no Senegalese show is complete without a cameo by the nation’s biggest national sports heroes and sure enough, wrestling champion Balla Gaye II joined the band on stage for few dance routines.

Let’s now see if N’Dour can regain his artistic mettle; after all, his old band the Super Étoile fell apart when he was pursuing his political career. Restoring that mighty music machine will be a formidable challenge. And the competition is heating up…

For now though, click below to enjoy some of the razzmatazz Senegal style on Youssou’s own television station:

Bram Posthumous will lead our next Songlines Music Travel trip to Dakar starting November 22. Bram lives much of the year in Dakar and has excellent contacts with local musicians. It will be a fantastic opportunity to really get a taste of the music scene. Call +44(0)1992 579697 or email for more information on the trip or download the brochure here.


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