"Perseverance always pays," said Youssou N'Dour of his first Grammy Award — for "Egypt," the winner for best contemporary world music album.
"It was a spiritual album. ... I tried something different and have made a leap forward in my career," N'Dour was quoted Tuesday as telling the government-run Le Soleil daily.
"This is the only thing I lacked in my long career," he said.
A superstar in his West African nation of Senegal, N'Dour rose to prominence in the United States and Europe in the 1980s with his country's homegrown popular music, mbalax.
The music is a mix of the traditional drumming of Senegal's Wolof ethnic group, African-rooted Cuban sounds and American soul and rock.
"Egypt," which has sold more than 400,000 copies in the United States and Europe, has been ready since 1989, his manager, Mady Drame, told The Associated Press.
N'Dour decided to release the album after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States to "promote a better image of Islam," Drame said.
The album combines the sounds of Cairo's Fathy Salama Orchestra with a small group of Senegalese musicians and singers.
One song is dedicated to Senegal's Mouride Muslim brotherhood, which forms a large part of this Muslim-dominated West African nation, where Christians and Muslims have lived peacefully for decades.
Story originally appeared in Launch.