Youssou N'Dour

Creating this portrait was like glimpsing a parallel universe. According to The Progressive article for which it was commissioned, Youssou N'Dour is "one of the most famous musicians on the planet." He is a griot, an oral historian who tells stories with songs. N'Dour developed a popular style of music called mbalax. He sings in his native language, Wolof. He believes that music can shape society and he places that faith into each of his compositions.

Until this illustration, I had never heard of this man or his music. And their existence, not to mention their names, made me feel like I had fallen through a looking glass. That is exactly why I love working as an illustrator. New worlds arrive with each assignment.

© 2010 rama hughes