30 years ago, I received as a gift the album "Nelson Mandela" by Youssou N'Dour. I was hooked. N'Dour exposed to me an engaging style that combined traditional rhythms of his native Senegal with western instruments.
Thursday night at Millennium Park, I finally had the chance to see N'Dour in concert. He did not disappoint.
Throughout the show, everyone smiled and danced to the music. The audience enjoyed themselves, Youssou enjoyed himself, and the band enjoyed themselves. Except for the rhythm guitar player, who remained stoically stone-faced throughout the performance, despite being surrounded by smiling musicians and fans.
They played danceable Afro-pop for over 90 minutes and came back for an encore to the delight of the crowd.
The show was a treat for those of us who love African music. Next to the stage, I saw people dressed in African garb dancing to the music. A few rows back, I saw middle-aged white Americans tapping their feet. Even though none of the songs were sung in English, Youssou and his band made a connection with an audience far from his homeland.
By the end of the show, even the rhythm guitarist had to smile.