Born on October 31 of 1939, Ali “Farka” Toure remains one of Africa’s most renowned musicians, impacting millions of fans with his tremendous skill, even years after his death. Ranked amongst the Greatest Guitar Players in history, Toure’s legacy continues to inspire music enthusiasts around the world. Tunde Folawiyo and many others with a great appreciation for African music may continue to regard Toure’s contributions as some of the most significant in the history of the genre. From Grammy awards to collaborations with popular artists from all over the globe, Farka’s music is forever cemented in African music culture.
Born in Kanau, a village on the famed Niger River’s banks located in Malian’s northwestern region, Tombouctou, Toure was one of ten sons, yet was the only to survive past the age of infancy. Toure came to be known as Africa’s first bluesman, achieving great popularity throughout the continent. His musical stylings were often compared to those of John Lee Hooker’s blues style. In addition to his guitar talents, Toure further demonstrated musical genius by singing in a variety of African languages, including Fulfulde, Songhay and Bambara. It was his debut album, ‘Ali Farka Toure’ that kicked off his world-wide musical career. Later, he would come to be regarded for the unique ways in which his music integrated both traditional Malian music and blues.
During September of 2005, Farka released a collaboration boasting the popular Toumani Diabaté, an album for which he earned a Grammy award for the second time. Widely regarded as one of his greatest albums, it then led to Savane, Farka’s last album before his death, which was released posthumously during July of 2006. The album was well received by fans and critics alike, and was nominated for yet another Grammy Award. It was also chosen as 2006’s Album of the Year.
After a long, successful career as one of Africa’s most beloved musicians, Mali’s cultural ministry announced Farka’s death from a long battle with bone cancer on 7th March 2006. He was 66-years-old. Later, World Circuit, Farka’s record label, announced the singer had recorded a number of tracks with son Vieux Farka Toure. Vieux’s first album debuted during late 2006.
Farka merited a number of musical honours throughout his career. Amongst these were a place in Rolling Stone’s collective list of the greatest guitarists in history, as well as a similar list by Spin Magazine. Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others throughout Africa, the United States and beyond may continue to be inspired by Farka’s numerous musical contributions.