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Ali Farka Touré

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Ali Ibrahim “Farka” Touré (1939-2006) was a singer and guitarist born in Kanau, Mali. His music is at the crossroad of traditional an music (one of the main roots of contemporary North American ) 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.

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