ALI FARKA TOURÉ (MALI)
Honouring the king of the Sahelian guitar at this stage in his epic career might appear to some like a touch of the 'too little too late'. Ali Farka Touré does have a few trophies on his adobe mantelpiece, including the Grammy he won in 1994 for his collaboration with Ry Cooder on 'Talking Timbuktu'. But the inescapable fact is that he's much more than just a great musician.
Like Franco, Mahlatini, Oum Khalsoum, Nass El Ghiwane or Youssou N'Dour, he was actually the source for a whole new approach to music and a whole new vision of what an African musician might be. His unique guitar style was fashioned from the super-rich musical alluvium of the Niger River bend, in northern Mali, where the Songhai, Peul, Bozo, Dogon and Tamasheq people have been depositing their rhythms, melodies, poetry and myths for centuries, paying heed both to the call of Islam and the lingering whispers of older spirits, mixing the sounds of instruments like the keening njarka fiddle, the Fulani flute and the scurrying four-stringed ngoni lute, piercing the vast African skies with gentle yearning sounds that were carried across the Atlantic to the New World centuries ago.
When Ali Farka Touré stormed the eager consciousness of African music fans in Europe and the USA in the early 1980s, he was hailed by many as the long lost 'missing link' between the American blues and its African roots. Despite later musical encounters with Taj Mahal and John Lee Hooker amongst others, Ali Farka Touré always made sure that everyone was quite clear about who had been influencing whom. His fierce pride in his own soil and his own ancestry has been most eloquently expressed by the fact that he never left his hometown of Niafunké on the Niger for the bright lights of Bamako or Paris, and has always preferred the rural charms of a farming life to that of an international musical superstar in exile. His steady and faithful relationship with the World Circuit label has produced a series of unforgettable albums, including 'The River', 'The Source' and the recent etheral meeting with kora maestro Toumani Diabate, 'In The Heart Of The Moon'. They all add up to an astounding body of work courtesy of a dauntless man who has lived a remarkable life. Maybe it's never to late to say 'Thanks' for that.
Ali Farka Toure's collaboration with Toumani Diabate wins a 2006 Grammy for "Best Traditional World Music Album".
Grammy album with Toumani Diabate
World Circuit Records profile
BBC Music review
BBC Radio 3: Ali Farka Touré in Mali
Paul Russell Liverpool
I had the priviledge of spending some time with Ali when he played the Bluecoat in Liverpool many years ago. I was part of the crew at the Bluecoat,we put on a number of world artists over that glorious period. Ali was a diamond,he took music to another level for us scousers raised on blues & soul & those 4 dudes who shook the world. A true artist & a fine human being,he had 5 encoures on that night which is rare for Liverpool.A world player for sure. RIP.
His music we will cherish forever. The man we will remember always. Ali Farka will live on through his wonderful music.
Jacques Marzan, Israel/USA
Ali Farka is clearly possessed by a splendid talent. His soulful-undulating rhythm inspires magic.
Kwame from uk
Farka is just great on soumbou ya ya.He made African pround.You could listen to him and it seems like all your problems just washed away.Surely a legend.R.I.P to the Great Man.
Bonny Andersson/ Sweden
this music make me feel like travel around the world and meet new freinds and eat and drink and dance...
Just about a Toure
This is the music of music!
Farka's music is unique yet simple and uncomplicated. I hope his latest solo album in progress will come out soon. It is sad to loose such a great musician. His purpose as a musician is fulfilled. His music is a source of solace to so many people across the globe. We miss his music as much as his persona. His music will speak for him and will definitely keep Timbuktu at the center of the universe in years to come. Srikanth
Miriam Taylor, Oxfordshire
What sad, sad news. Your World Routes programme today was one of the best ever, and a really moving tribute to the great man. Ali Farka epitomised the generosity of the country he came from. I travelled in Mali in January, via Bamako and Niafunke to the Festival au Desert. You brought that wonderful experience back so vividly, the dusty roads, the spirit of the Niger, the sand, the broken vehicles, the vibrancy- the programme was so real, so loving, so much more. Keep it on your website FOR EVER.
Harry O/Atlanta USA
I have one thing to say about Ali Farka...In this world, there are men and there are great men. Ali Farka was a great man. He is the quintessential when it comes to African music.
ILLA ABDOULKAYE NIGER GOUGE
GOD BLESS ALI FARKA TOURE! AMEN
This is soulful music. It makes you glide.
Good to hear something positive out of Africa
Ali Farka The Best I'm Glade to hear hem at b.b.c Ahmad
"In the heart of the moon is colosal
Khadijah Sarr/ USA
This is beautiful guitar music. I hope Ali Farka toure wins.