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Ali Farka Touré: From Africa to the World!

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Ali Farka Tuoré was born in Gourmararusse (Timbuktu, Africa) in 1939. This African singer and guitarist is not only one of the most worldwide recognized African performers but also one of the most important representatives of Malian Music, which was one of the roots of current North American Blues. He was not supposed to be a musician since in their society, professions and occupations are inherited and belong to certain group or tribe. However, in spite of his family opposition, he began playing the guitar when 10 years old to finally master it at 17 years old.

His born name was Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré. The word “Farka” means donkey, and his parents decided to give him that name due to the admirable qualities of that animal: stubbornness and tenacity. His fascination for music led him to play the gurkel and njarka, both traditional African instruments. This self-taught performer was introduced in the musical world and strongly influenced by Otis Redding, Ray Charles and John Lee Hooker. His style is often compared with  R.L Burnside due to his characteristic superposition of guitars and rhythms. Another special feature is that Ali Farka Touré sang in one of African native languages whether Tamasheck, Shongai or Fula.

His first album was released in 1976. Farka was followed by the album that would provide Ali Farka Touré with worldwide recognition and popularity: Ali Farka Touré (1987). The River (1990), The Source (1992), Talking Timbuktu (1994), Radio Mali (1996), Niafunké (1999), Red/Green (2004) and In The Heart Of The Moon (2006). It is important to point out certain issues regarding these releases. Talking Timbuktu encompasses the single “Diaraby” choosen by the BBC program The World. Niafunké was an album much more traditional emphasizing on African rhythms. Finally, Ali Farka Touré won a Grammy award for the album In The Heart Of The Moon which he did with the help of Toumani Diabaté. Farka died at the age of 67 due to bone cancer.

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