Ali Farka Touré Dies

I wanted to mention this earlier this week but didn’t get around to it. Ali Farka Touré, the great blues guitarist from Mali, passed away this week after a long illness. He was in his late sixties.

Touré won two Grammys in his lifetime, one in 1994 for Talking Timbuktu and one just this year for In the Heart of the Moon. He was adamant that his blues music was African to the core, and that Delta blues was a direct descendent of his country’s musical heritage.

Although he has worked with several US blues guitarists, the “Bluesman of Africa” always insisted that the music had its roots in the traditional sounds of northern Mali, rather than the southern United States.

Malian journalist Sadio Kante says Toure was better known abroad than in his home country…

During the 1990s rebellion by the Tuareg people of northern Mali, Toure was seen as something of a peacemaker by singing in all of the region’s languages – Songhai, Fulani and the Tuareg’s Tamashek.

Many Bamako residents saw him as a northerner, rather than a national figure, says Sadio Kante.