Youssou N’Dour I Bring What I Love
by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Youssou N’Dour I Bring What I Love is a gorgeously photographed, music-infused cinematic portrait of world-famous Senegalese pop sensation Youssou N’Dour. Best known in the West for his collaborations with Bono and Peter Gabriel, N’Dour is one of the most beloved musicians in pop music; his legendary career has spanned decades.
In 2004, responding to negative perceptions about his Muslim faith, N’Dour recorded Egypt, a deeply spiritual album dedicated to a more tolerant view of Islam. In a critical and career-defining moment, the album was awarded the 2005 Grammy® for Best World Music Album. While Western audiences embraced N’Dour’s brave musical message, it encountered a serious religious backlash in his native country of Senegal, where N’Dour is considered a national hero. Local critics and the media accused him of insulting Islam, arguing that pop and religious music shouldn’t be mixed. I say if the two just have to be mixed, then N’Dour brings a sincerity and pulsating vibe that can’t be ignored.
Combining unprecedented images of Senegal’s most sacred musical rituals, vibrant concert performances filmed around the world, and intimate access to N’Dour and his family, I Bring What I Love chronicles the difficult path this remarkable artist must take. It is a stirring journey of faith, redemption and the power of music to overcome tolerance.
Throughout the film, you witness N’Dour’s power to bring his band mates together, as everyone strived to put on their best to go wherever N’Dour led them.
Contemporary American artist Alicia Keys says about N’Dour, “His transcendent voice feels like a spiritual experience. If you close your eyes and listen, you can hear the history of humanity, the hope of many and the beauty of the place where it was born.”
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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