Ali Farka Toure
Born: 1939, Gourmararusse, Mali
Ali Farka Toure is a multi-lingual West African vocalist, guitarist, drummer, and songwriter who, as music historian Richie Unterberger observed, has been “described as ‘the African John Lee Hooker’ so many times that it probably began to grate on both Toure’s and Hooker’s nerves.”* The comparison is due to Toure’s mesmerizing, stripped-down sound that features innovative rhythm and haunting, low vocals. His exceptional music is often described as uniting the sounds of the Mississippi Delta with those of West Africa, and he clearly adds more global influences, musically and instrumentally, to the mix. Toure has had an enormous influence on world music, and has worked with Ry Cooder, Taj Mahal and the Chieftains, among others.
Essential listening: “Ali’s Here,” “Saukare,” “Bonde,” “Amandrai,” “Soukora”