Continuing the ongoing panorama of music at the Nonesuch at BAM Festival, Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour performed to a pair of packed houses last week that turned the Howard Gilman Opera House into something resembling a revival meeting. Wearing bright orange and green kaftans, N'Dour charmed the largely expat African audience on Saturday with a 2 1/2 hour performance of mbalax songs from across his three decade career. His high, pure voice was carried straight up into the rafters by the members of his veteran band, Super Etoile. It was a concert, a call to arms, and a spiritual awakeneing, all at once. As his James Brown-style MC kept telling us, without the slightest bit of pretense: "He is the King of African Music! He is a minister of the people!," an oblique reference to N'Dour's recent appointment as Senegal's Minister of Culture and Tourism. From my vantage point in the midst of an ecstatic crowd of women dancing in heels and sequinned dresses, and men who threw dollars at N'Dour's feet like a religious offering, it didn't feel like much of an exaggeration.
More pics on the photo page.