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01 août 2005

Womad 2005 Youssou N'Dour Interview

He's one of the most celebrated African musicians in history and he's performing at Reading's WOMAD Festival. Youssou N'Dour took time out of his hectic schedule to speak to BBC Berkshire about WOMAD.

You're coming to WOMAD, one of the World's biggest music festivals, not long to go now, how are you feeling?

"I'm feeling good, I'm happy, because I think the WOMAD Festival really started the beginning of my career in Europe, and I remember in 1984 doing the WOMAD Festival, it was really exciting.

"A long time ago we were thinking that World music was going to be something happening in two/three years, now we realise everyone is playing world music."

WOMAD is quite unique because it provides a platform, a showcase for that kind of music. How important is that to you?

"Yeah I think WOMAD brings to the table diversity. It's really something that makes the world richer - culturally and musically especially. I think WOMAD helps people to understand diversity. At the same time, it's kind of a platform to tell people who listen to the radio every day that it's not the only thing happening in music, and there's a lot of great music."

What kind of performance can people expect to see from you at WOMAD?

"Yeah it will be with the same band I used at WOMAD 20 years ago, it'll be all my stuff, old stuff and new stuff also. It's also about bringing an African vibe."

Are there any other acts at WOMAD you particularly want to see?

"Yeah, doing the tour is really difficult, seeing everything that goes on at WOMAD because I believe in it. And people are bringing some wonderful things but I wonder about having the time!"

Your biggest hit to date in the UK is 'Seven Seconds' with Nenah Cherry. You performed that with Dido at Live 8, what was that like?

"It was great. Nenah said when we wrote this song, it's not for us anymore, it's for everybody, and it's great to hear from different singers that want to sing the song with me or with Nenah - I remember the one with Annie Lennox in South Africa was great also.

"I was really happy and Nenah was also, I spoke to her a week after we sang in Edinburgh. It's great to have a song that unites people and brings musicians and singers together."

You perform all over the world, what kind of reception do you get when you go back home to Senegal?

"I feel the language of music when I go back to my country, 10 million people but little country...I feel like every member of the country is proud that my music is touching the world.

"I think people are seeing in me and other African artists something they really need and I'm really proud and really excited."

What kind of music do you listen to?

"I listen to everything but I'm a real fan of the sixties...Wilson Picket and things, I'm a real fan of soul music. I also listen to African traditional music."

What else are you doing this summer?

"I'm touring around Europe, after WOMAD I'm going back home, I'm going to Budapest after, some gig in France also.

"And something is going to happen on October 1st in Paris - a big African concert, 15-20,000 people."

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