The "This Day Music and Fashion Festival 2008" came to Washington DC in August 2008, after two festivals in Nigeria.
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Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Oluwole Rotimi, watched the performance of fellow west African Youssou N'Dour, as well as Nigerian designers and models, from a box seat at the Kennedy Center.
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Sound - lots of it! - and lights came to the normally staid concert hall of the National Symphony Orchestra st the Kennedy Center, in a show opened by Youssou N'Dour.
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The Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour seemed comfortable on the Kennedy Center concert hall stage. Five years ago an opera he composed premiered at the Opéra Bastille.
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Youssou N'Dour is perhaps Africa's best-loved musician and a world music celebrity. He composed the official anthem of the 1998 football (soccer) World Cup,
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Youssou N'Dour's seven-strong group of instrumentalists seemed to revel in the festivities at the Kennedy Center.
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Youssou N'Dour mixes classic rock rythms, Cuban samba percussion, global hip-hop beats and diverse world music influences - all strongly grounded in traditional Senegalese music.
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Youssou N'Dour's back-up band at the Kennedy Center
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"I am Africa and THIS is AFRICA rising," declared Youssou N"Dour opening the This Day Africa Rising festival at the Kennedy Center.
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The capacity crowd of more than 2500 at the Africa Rising festival may not have known Youssou N'Dour as well as later acts John Legend and Jay-Z, but he and his band made new fans with soaring lyrics and insistent rythms.
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Youssou N'Dour has used his international stature - he won an American Grammy in 2005 for best contemporary world music album - to campaign for social and economic justice.
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Equally compelling as a solo voice as leading his band, Youssou N'Dour showed the Kennedy Center audience glimpses of his activism. In the 1980s he organized a concert for the release from prison of Nelson Mandela; he headlined Amnesty International's 1988 "Human Rights Now!" tour, and was the only African musician to appear in the "Live 8" international concerts in July 2005, managing to get to three of them after organizers came under fire for not including African musicians in the round-the-world shows.
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Youssou N'Dour played British/African abolitionist Olaudah Equiano in Amazing Grace, a film about William Wilberforce's campaign to end slavery in the British empire. At the Kennedy Center concert hall, he combined numbers with pulsating beats with quiet tributes to the dignity and perseverance ordinary Africans.
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A sometimes rowdy crowd at the Kennedy Center "Africa Rising" festival was reduced to respectful silence by the lone voice of Youssou N'Dour.
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Youssou N'Dour's soulful melodies and social messages captivated the Kennedy Center audience. They may have come for Jay-Z and John Legend, but they danced at their seats or quieted to respectful silence, as the Senegalese musician and social campaigner shifted styles.
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After Youssou N'Dour's set, "Africa Rising" masters of ceremonies Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Paula Zahn promised the crowd fashion, bling and superstars John Legend and Jay-Z.
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