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FALLOU DIENG is the most popular leader of the “new generation” of Senegalese artists emerging from the groundbreaking trail blazed by the country’s most famous son, Youssou N’Dour.

Fallou is known as “le Roi de l’ambiance” for creating some of Dakar’s most thrilling dance music, where cracking sabar drums, driving polyrhythms, and punchy horn stabs all blend perfectly with Fallou’s dynamic and versatile voice.

Born in 1960, at the dawn of Senegal’s independence, Fallou is the son of a marabout (spiritual leader). He was named after the distinguished marabout Serigne Fallou Mbacké, the son of Cheikh Amadou Bamba Mbacké, the legendary Sufi founder and leader of Mouridism. Certainly, this pedigree seems to have influenced Fallou’s magnificent onstage presence: he bears a graceful and elegant manner as he sings and leads his fervently exuberant and exceptionally gifted young band, the DLC. Also on stage with Fallou Dieng is an absolutely outstanding dancer, Mor Talla Samb. Samb is a human explosion of buoyant, whirling, levitating, turbaned energy, whose voluminous blue robes balloon with air whenever he alights on stage.

Fallou Dieng’s lyrics offer comfort about life’s hardships, urge lasting friendships, tout the values of loyalty, trust, truth, and integrity, praise his faith, and stress the importance of fighting for true love – in a cultural milieu where arranged marriages are the norm. An overall sense of well-being emanates from his sweetly gruff voice as he croons, implores, and scats away in Wolof, Serer, and Toucouleur, reaching out to Senegal’s various ethnicities.

In Dakar, the sparkling live music scene is very competitive – revelers expect to be entertained until 5am – and Fallou’s steady stream of releases and incendiary live show have kept him in the limelight since his first hit record 15 years ago, when his career was launched with the help of his Medina neighbor and mentor Youssou N’Dour and his business partner Cheikh Tall Dioum. In fact, Fallou’s band, the DLC, is named in recognition of his benefactors – DLC (Dakar Loisir Club) was the name Youssou and Dioum gave the old Thiossane nightclub when they took over management of it.

Fallou’s dynamic powers as a singer, composer, arranger, and bandleader in classic, down-home-roots Senegalese musical styling known as mbalax dur et pur (hard and pure mbalax, the Senegalese pop genre based on sabar drumming) are at last reaching a wider audience with a full North American summer tour and a new album anthology African Classics – recently released on the Sheer Sound label. The album release is a comprehensive collection of Fallou’s commercial hits and critical successes in Senegal.

— with thanks to Afropop.org