Posted: 04/06/2010


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.
Scenes in I Bring What I Love show N’Dour at his best; he seems to captivate audiences whenever and wherever he toured. People seemed to cling on to every word and enjoy every movement, as if they were waiting for N’Dour to just tell them their next move.
Youssou N’Dour’s I Bring What I Love is a film by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, which has been described as “a musical journey about the power of one voice to inspire millions.”

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.
In Senegal, N’Dour’s fans play tribute to him by dancing and singing along as he gets fired up while performing. Such electricity going through the crowd, as they all seem to stand in solidarity with the positive messages of unity and love that N’Dour metes out. He does all this in a sort of “Nina Simone” vein—the conscious activist who just happens to sing well, loud and gets the crowd involved.

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.”
In deed, N’Dour makes many proud that he’s from Senegal, but he also brings out the pride in anyone who’s struggled for identity and a place in a world that seems to often try to make some segments of society think that they’re not worthy. N’Dour brings the pride out of anyone who hears his performance, whatever his or her ethnicity. N’Dour is joined by Fathy Salama, Le Super Etoile De Dakar,The Fathy Salama Cairo Orchestra and Peter Gabriel.

“Bring Your Faith, Bring Your Doubt, Bring Your Voice, Bring Your Love,” but most importantly bring yourself to purchase a copy of Youssou N’Dour’s I Bring What I Love on DVD now from Oscilloscope. Visit

Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.

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