Ali Farka Toure biography
Ali Ibrahim "Farka" Touré (1939-2006) was a Malian singer and guitarist born in Kanau, Mali. His music is at the crossroad of traditional Malian music (one of the main roots of contemporary North American blues) and modern feedback influences from North American and English blues.
Ali Ibrahim "Farka" Touré was born in 1939 (he did not know the exact date of birth) in the Muslim village of Kanau, near Gourma Rharous, on the banks of the Niger River, in the northwestern Malian region of Tombouctou. He was the tenth son of his mother but the only one to survive past infancy. "The name I was given was Ali Ibrahim, but it's a custom in Africa to give a child a strange nickname if you have had other children who have died," Touré was quoted as saying in a biography on his Record Label, World Circuit Records. His nickname, "Farka", chosen by his parents, means "donkey" - an animal admired for its tenacity and stubbornness. "Let me make one thing clear. I'm the donkey that nobody climbs on!" He was descended from the ancient military force known as the Arma, and was ethnically tied to the Songrai (Songhai) and Peul peoples of northern Mali.
As the first African bluesman to achieve widespread popularity on his home continent, Touré was often known as "the African John Lee Hooker". Musically, the many superpositions of guitars and rhythms in his music were similar to R. L. Burnside's hypnotic blues style. He usually sang in one of several African languages, mostly Songhay, Fulfulde, or Tamasheq, as on his breakthrough album, Ali Farka Touré, which established his reputation in the world music community. 1994's Talking Timbuktu, a collaboration with Ry Cooder, sold promisingly well in western markets but was followed by a hiatus from releases in America and Europe. His guitar riff on the song "Diaraby," from the album Talking Timbuktu, was selected for the Geo-quiz segment of The World PRI-BBC program, and was retained by popular demand when put to a vote of the listeners. He reappeared in 1999 with the release of Niafunké, a more traditional album focusing on African rhythms and beats. Touré is noted as the mentor to popular Malian musician Afel Bocoum.
In 2004 Touré became mayor of Niafunké and spent his own money grading the roads, putting in sewer canals and fuelling a generator that provided the impoverished town with electricity.
In September 2005, he released the album In the Heart of the Moon, a collaboration with Toumani Diabaté, for which he received a second Grammy award.
On 7th February 2006 the Ministry of Culture of Mali announced his death at the age of sixty-seven in Bamako from bone cancer, against which he had been battling for some time. His record label, World Circuit, said that he had just completed work on a new solo album (released in 2006 as Savane). He also recorded several tracks with his son Vieux Farka Touré for his Vieux's debut album released on Feb 13, 2007.