The 2005 Grammy winner for World Contemporary Music Album sings, “If you love me, I love you. If you hate me, I still love you.” An important Christian message, don't you think? OK, singer Youssou N'Dour is Muslim … an important spiritual message, then.
In the film “Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love,” he's talking about his music. This includes music that was embraced throughout the West but was considered blasphemy in his home country of Senegal.
N'Dour is an African Muslim from Senegal. Very poor country, Senegal. No oil. No diamonds. He follows the Sufi tradition, which is very different from the Shias and the Sunnis that we usually hear about.
Curiously, after N'Dour won a Grammy for his barrier breaking album, “Egypt,” the most famous pop singer in Senegal was their favorite son again.
Since you may know little if anything about N'Dour, consider seeing this documentary about him. It's a cross-cultural challenge, and N'Dour is a compelling man who draws you to cross over to his culture long enough to hear his messages of peace and possibility and giving thanks.
The culture of this man is no simple statement. He speaks many languages. He's a rock star fusing international sounds and rhythms. He pop-chants and pop-preaches with an inescapable foundation of Muslim twang.
Not everyone will digest the film's large dose of his sound as smoothly as, say, that of Ray Charles or Elvis (mentioned specifically because they were considered blasphemers by many for a time).
Regardless, “I Bring What I Love” challenges you with the story and performances of an iconoclastic, worldwide celebrity, a man who is genuine, bold, irreverently reverent, both humble and proud to be the man he gets to be.
Consider seeing this film because of its emphatically foreign feel, even as it tells a familiar story of an impassioned road to success.