'Tales From The Woods' raises a glass also to the man referred to as the godfather of the desert blues, Ali Farka Toure who has sadly died of bone cancer on March 6, 2006 aged 66.
26th September 1939 was an auspicious moment in time; a proud father held his son up to the midnight cosmos and, in recognition, this babe turned out to be one of the most influential African musicians of all time.
Born in Niafunké,
Toure earned his nickname of Farka
or Donkey (which, unlike North Africa, is not considered the ultimate insult in
His musical career began when he
moved to the capital Bamakoto to take on yet another
new job as a sound engineer on Radio
The 1986 ‘Red Album’ (called so
because of its red cover) cam e to the attention of the British DJ and roots
music champion Andy Kershaw. He played it on his show and the reaction was
quite remarkable. A representative of the world music scene set out to
Once becoming a cult hero in
There can be no doubt that Toure was strongly influenced by the late legend of the blues, John Lee Hooker, whose intensely rhythmic style strikes a common chord with African listeners, a comparison that first boosted Toure’s career and then later infuriated him, stating in interviews on more than one occasion that he played African music, not the blues and that “This music has been taken from here; I play traditional music and I don’t know what blues is, for me blues is a type of soap powder”.
was the first of a long line of great musicians from
Despite being at the peak of his
career, Toure retreated to his home town of
In 1999 he released the ‘Niafunké’ album, recorded in his home town at a time when people thought he has been lost forever to other needs and passions. Not to last however for the following year, 2000, he had given up performing but last year released his album ‘In The Heart Of The Moon’ recorded with the world’s leading Kora player Toumani Diabate and last June the duo played together at The Barbican in London. Last month he won a second Grammy for the album with Diabate but he was never to see the award. It was being taken out to him along with the final mixes of his forthcoming album by Nick Gold of the World Circuit label around the period of time he died in his sleep. Gold was quoted as saying that “Ali found things easy for much of his life, confidence to succeed at almost anything he attempted despite the fact he never went to school and could neither read nor write”.
He is survived by a wife and eleven children.