Youssou N’Dour and Nothembi at Closing Concert of World Music Festival: Chicago 2003

Youssou N'Dour
Youssou N’Dour
Chicago, USA – Internationally-acclaimed vocalist Youssou N’Dour from Senegal and award-winning
musician Nothembi from South Africa are featured in the double-bill closing concert for World Music Festival: Chicago 2003, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday., Sept. 21, at the Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine Ave.  Tickets are $25 through Ticketmaster, 312.559.1212 or

The five-day festival of concerts will culminate in this exciting and memorable finale that is highlighted with a rare Chicago appearance by Youssou N’Dour, one of Africa’s greatest voices,” according to Michael Orlove, World Music Festival Director for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.

Youssou N’Dour has been called “the world’s greatest pop vocalist” (Village Voice) and “African Artist of the Century” (Folk Roots).  The critically acclaimed singer pioneered the transformation of mbalax, the popular music in Senegal today, from a local style to worldwide popularity during more than
twenty years of recording and touring. 

Mbalax is a blend of the country’s traditional music and storytelling with Western influences.  N’Dour is an innovator in the field, playing Senegalese roots music often filtered through genre-defying rock or pop music from outside the culture.  N’Dour launched an international career in 1979.  In 1985, he recorded the memorable duet “In Your Eyes” with rock musician Peter Gabriel.  He will be accompanied in Chicago by a 10-piece ensemble.  He was born in 1959 in Dakar, where he is still based. 

Known as the “Queen of Ndebele Music,” singer and guitarist Nothembi makes her Chicago debut accompanied by a 10-piece ensemble.  Garbed in magnificent hand-made traditional Ndebele clothing, complemented by singing and dancing, they present a multi-faceted picture of Ndebele culture.  Nothembi has eight recordings and extensive international touring to her credit.  Among other distinctions, she was Tourism Ambassador for South Africa in 1998, and received an honorary South
African Music Award for best Ndebele music in 1999.  She was born Peki Emelia Nothembi Mkhwebane in 1953 in South Africa, where she is still based.           
The fifth annual World Music Festival: Chicago 2003 will feature approximately 30 musicians and ensembles from over 15 countries around the world at more than a dozen venues in the city, from Wed., Sept. 17, through Sun., Sept. 21.  A mixture of free and ticketed events are scheduled.  The international sounds of traditional and contemporary music will be heard in Chicago museums, parks,
cultural centers, plazas, theaters, bookstores, clubs, and other venues.

The annual festival was launched in 1999 to resounding critical and popular acclaim and is renowned for its innovation, quality and diversity in bringing international music to Chicago.

This year’s line-up includes performers from a variety of countries, including Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Hungary, India, Italy, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Zimbabwe and many others, as well as musicians based in Chicago and other cities in the U.S.

World Music Festival: Chicago 2003 is organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and presented this year as part of Play On Chicago.  Events are presented at the Chicago Cultural Center, the Old Town School of Folk Music, the Museum of Contemporary Art, HotHouse, “Under the Picasso” at the Daley Civic Center, and various other performance spaces around the city.  New venues this
year include the River East Arts Center, Rhythm and Sonotheque.

World Music Festival: Chicago 2003 is partially underwritten through a major grant from the Chicago Cultural Center Foundation and Play On Chicago/Chicago Office of Tourism.  Corporate sponsors include Borders Books & Music, The Boeing Company, United “Chicago’s Hometown Airline,” the official airline sponsor, Chicago Public Radio WBEZ 91.5 FM, official radio sponsor, and Days Inn Lincoln
Park-North, major hotel sponsor.

Play On Chicago, a citywide promotional campaign that celebrates the city’s musical heritage with a wide range of musical styles and events, June 1 – Sept. 21, 2003, is a collaborative initiative of the Chicago Office of Tourism, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, the Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism. 

For more information about Play on Chicago, reservations for hotel accommodations at special rates and the Immersion Weekend hospitality packages, visit or call toll free, 1.877.CHICAGO (1.877.244.2246).

Call the World Music Festival: Chicago 2003 hotline at 312.742.1938, or visit for more information and a complete schedule.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.