ALI FARKA TOURÉ
(October 31st 1939 – 7th March 2006)
10 years after his death, a short reminder of why Ali Farka Touré is one of Africa’s most loved and respected artists
Ali Farka Touré, the great singer and guitarist from Mali, is one of the most important musicians in African music. Pioneer of the move from traditional to modern African music, the three times GRAMMY winner was a crucial figure in the popularisation of Malian music.
He became internationally famous through his solo albums and world tours and through his collaboration with Ry Cooder ‘Talking Timbuktu’. He also championed the careers of fellow Malian musicians, Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyaté, Oumou Sangaré and Rokia Traoré amongst others.
Touré developed a highly individual and instantly recognisable take on the traditional music of the north of Mali, transposing ancient techniques to the Western guitar. He became known as the missing link between African music and the blues; Martin Scorsese called him ‘The DNA of the blues’. Touré was possessed during his musical initiation into the local gimbala river spirit religion and he is credited as being the creator of the ‘desert blues’ a style further popularised by Tinariwen and Songhoy Blues.
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of his death, Ali Farka Touré was celebrated in his native Mali with a series of events over the week-end of 5th March. This included an all-star concert in Bamako featuring Mali’s great stars, the final of a football tournament in his honour (Touré was a huge football fan), the laying of the foundation stone for Rue Ali Farka Touré, an exhibition at the National Museum and various other events. Earlier last week musical memorials took place in his home village of Niafunké in the north of Mali, which had until recently been occupied by jihadi forces who had banned music in much of the north of Mali.
Ali Farka Touré was unique in Malian music for his mastery of the country’s many distinctive regional styles and is revered as personifying the unity of the Malian people at this difficult time in Mali’s history.
World Circuit will be releasing a new Ali Farka Touré album later this year.