African Musician Ali Farka Toure Dies
March 07, 2006:
As reported by billboard.com, the legendary Ali Farka Toure, a traditional African musician died today (March 7) in his native Mali home after a long battle with bone cancer. He was in his late 60s.
Ali Farka Toure
Toure, one of Africa's most famous and influential performers, played a traditional Malian stringed instrument called the gurke.
He was best known in America and Europe for his 1995 collaboration with guitarist Ry Cooder on Talking Timbuktu, which netted him his first of two Grammys. He won another Grammy this year in the traditional world music album category for his album In the Heart of the Moon, performed with fellow Malian Toumani Diabate.
According to his American label, Nonesuch Records, work had just been completed on a new solo album. No release date has been set.
Across his deeply impoverished west African nation, people mourned Toure's passing and radio stations suspended regular play, sending Toure's signature lilting sounds out over airwaves instead.
Toure was born in 1939 in the northern Sahara Desert trading post of Timbuktu. Like many Africans of his generation, the exact date of his birth was not recorded.
Toure learned the gurkel at an early age, later also taking up the guitar. He cited many Western musicians for inspiration, including Ray Charles, Otis Redding and John Lee Hooker.
Toure spent much of his later days in his childhood town of Niafunke, which has become a pilgrimage spot for many music-loving Africans and tourists seeking one of the original progenitors of a genre known as Mali Blues.