Islam in Harmony; WORLD

Article excerpt

Byline: SUE STEWARD

Youssou N"Dour

Barbican

LAST night, the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour performed songs from his latest album, Egypt. No mere gig by the most celebrated World Music superstar, it marked a turning-point in a musical career and suggests new possibilities for harmony between African nations following differing interpretations of Islam.

Egypt, a collaboration between Egyptian and Senegalese musicians, breaks the separation of Arabic northern and black sub-Saharan African cultures.

Fathy Salama's Orchestra from Cairo performed in classical style, with solo oud (lute), nay (flute) and violin, and N'Dour added traditional Senegalese instruments and rhythms to create a potent backing to his lyrics.

N'Dour is remembered for his collaborations with Peter Gabriel and Neneh Cherry, and the 1988 Amnesty International World Tour with Sting and Bruce Springsteen.

At home, his unique hybrid of Western and traditional dance music called mbalax sells millions of records.

Anyone expecting baseball caps and dancers, synthesizers and mbalax last night would have been confused by the spiritual atmosphere. …