Ali Farka Touré (1939-2006)

Ali Farka Touré was a farmer, and a singer-guitarist, who plays in a distinct style, very close to the blues. Based on traditional songhaï music, he also uses Fulani (Peul), Touareg and Bambara elements, singing accordingly in one of these languages.

Ali was born in Gourma-Rharous, where his father died when Ali was two years old. At age of seven, Ali was sent to his uncle in Niafunke (Niafodié) where he grew up, working hard on the fields. He was not given the opportunity to attend school. Nine brothers of Ali died at infant age, but Ali continued to struggle, which gave him his surname of "farka" (=donkey), reflecting his stubborness.

Ali "Farka" Touré has been making albums since the 1970s and is still one of the most famous Malian musicians and was respected, both in his home country as well as internationally. A contract with World Circuit and his subsequent collaboration with Ry Cooder brought the international acclaim he deserves, although he remained a modest man, and was more interested in farming and helping young artists of his country than in receiving international awards. Returning to farming, he invested a lot in what became his home town Niafunké, and in 2004, he was even elected mayor of the small town.

Besides rereleases of his older albums, Ali Farka continued to record, and in 2005, he made « In the Heart of the Moon » with Toumani Diabaté, an album that received much acclaim. He received a second Grammy Award for it. In 2005, he recorded his last solo album, « Savane », and only shortly after he approved of the result of the recordings, he died of bone cancer on 6 or 7 March 2006. The album was released posthumously in July 2006. After his death, his former band member Afel Bocoum continues to make music following the legacy of Ali Farka's music. His son Vieux Farka Touré has become a successful musician.

Ali Farka Touré
   Ali Farka Touré   

Born: 1939, in Gourma-Rharous (Tombouctou region), died 7 March 2006 in Bamako
Birth Name: Ali Ibrahim Touré
Style: Songhaï blues, Desert Blues, Mali Blues

Title Year Label Remarks
Manakoidé 2011 World Circuit 10" EP, Record Store Day 2011 release
Ali and Toumani 2010 World Circuit WCD 083 Recording session with Toumani Diabate
Savane 2006 World Circuit WCD 075
In the Heart of the Moon 2005 World Circuit WCD 072 Recording session with Toumani Diabate
Red & Green 2004 World Circuit WCD 070 2CD album, « La Drogue » and « Sidy Gouro » remastered and repackaged
Niafunké 1999 World Circuit WCD 054
Radio Mali 1996 World Circuit WCD 044 Compilation of older Radio Mali recordings
Talking Timbuktu 1994 World Circuit WCD 040 With Ry Cooder
The Source 1992 World Circuit WCD 030
The River 1990 World Circuit WCD 017
Timbarna/Eight Songs from the Legendary Singer 1987 World Circuit WCD 007
Sidy Gouro 1988 Sonodisc/Esperance 8448 'Green Album'
La Drogue 1984 Sonodisc/Esperance 5558 'Red Album', rereleased on CD in 1989
Ali Touré dit “Farka” 1980 Sonafric 50085 Album also referred to as 'Banga'
Yer Sabou Yerkoy 1977 Sonafric 50060
Biennale 1976 Sonafric 50032
Spécial Biennale du Mali 1976 Sonafric 50020
Ali Touré "Farka" 1976 Sonafric 50016 Album also referred to as 'Bandolobourou'

Sources (careful, obsolete web site!)

Page added May 1998