Once called Senegal's most famous living singer by Rolling Stone magazine, he developed the mbalax style of music and in 2012, he was named Senegal's Minister of Tourism and Culture.
He joined the Star Band at a young age and founded the ensemble Étoile de Dakar in 1979, which went on to become an extremely popular act throughout the African continent.
He was profiled in the films Return to Goree, which was directed by Pierre-Yves Borgeaud and Youssou N'Dour: I Bring What I Love, which was directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.
He was the child of a Wolof mother and a Serer father.
He was featured in the critically acclaimed movie Amazing Grace in 2006, which chronicled William Wilberforce's fight against slavery within the British Empire.