African Music Encyclopedia


Ali Farka Toure


Ali Farka Toure was born in 1949 in Niafounke into a North Malian noble family who trace their roots back to the Spanish Moors who first crossed the Sahara to control the salt and gold trade. In 1956, after a chance meeting with the director of Guinea's National Ballet, Keita Fodeba, Toure made the decision to learn the guitar.

It was a prescient choice as today Toure is known as the Bluesman of Africa because of his highly distinctive blues style that's a cross-mix of the Arabic-influenced Malian sound with American blues reminicent of bluesmen such as John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Big Joe Williams. He most commonly tours with his brother on calabash, and cousin on congas.

Partial Discography:

Ali Farka Toure (Shanachie, CD)
Ali Farka Toure 1987 (World Circuit, UK) features 10 all-acoustic songs
The River 1989 (World Circuit, UK) guests include Rory Mcleod, Steve Williamson, and Chieftains Sean Keane and Kevin Conneff.
The Source 1992 (World Circuit, UK) guests include Taj Mahal, and tabla player Nitin Sawney.
Talking Timbuktu 1994 (Hannibal/World Circuit, UK/Rykodisk HNCD-1381) with Ry Cooder, this recording topped many indie charts within days of it's release. A definite must have.

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