- Title: KENYA: Malian musician Ali Farka Toure dies in his sleep
- Date: 16th March 2006
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALI FARKA TOURE SAYING: "I didn't choose music as a career, at all. It's a natural gift that came to me. It's as if it were a message that God has planted in my heart."
- Embargoed: 31st March 2006 13:00
- Location: Kenya
- Country: Kenya
- Topics: Entertainment,Obituaries
- Reuters ID: LVA84P64LNQ52BCZKTYMYJK4YMEB
- Story Text: Malian blues singer and guitarist Ali Farka Toure, one of Africa's best loved musicians, died in his sleep at home on Tuesday (March 7, 2006) after a long fight with bone cancer. He was in his late 60s.
Dubbed "the African John Lee Hooker", the Grammy-winning bluesman was among West Africa's most internationally successful artists, winning acclaim around the world for his 1994 album "Talking Timbuktu", recorded with Texan guitarist Ry Cooder.
Farka Toure, who was born in 1939 but did not know his exact date of birth, won a second Grammy last month for "In the Heart of the Moon", recorded with his countryman Toumani Diabate and voted best traditional world music album.
He had just finished work on a new solo album when he died.
"An exceptional guitarist, he transposed the traditional music of his native north Mali and single-handedly brought the style known as desert blues to an international audience," World Circuit, the label that produces his music, said in a statement. Radio stations interrupted their programmes to broadcast his hypnotic music. Some played homages from listeners and fellow musicians around the impoverished West African nation, which stretches across the southern edge of the Sahara desert.
Though he achieved international renown later in his career, Farka Toure's life and music remained deeply rooted in the traditions of his home village, Niafunke, which lies in barren savannah near the fabled Saharan trading town of Timbuktu.
He retreated from music to concentrate on his rice farm in 1990. When his producer convinced him to record again, an impromptu studio running on generators had to be set up in the village so he could tend his fields at the same time. He was appointed mayor of Niafunke, where he will be buried, in 2004 in recognition of his efforts to improve the agricultural and social situation of those living in the region.
"He's one of the great, great, great musicians. Nobody does what Ali does. He is one of a kind: he is the lion of the desert," kora player Toumani Diabate wrote in the liner notes to "In the Heart of the Moon".
Farka Toure, who took up the guitar at the age of 10, toured often in North America and Europe, adapting influences from jazz, blues and the traditional songs of West Africa's Songhai, Mande and Tuareg cultures.. But fiercely proud of his native country, Farka Toure never allowed outside influences to dilute his musical heritage.
"We were in the middle of the landscape which inspired the music and that in turn inspired myself and the musicians. My music is about where I come from and our way of life," Farka Toure was quoted as saying of his 1999 album, Niafunke.
"In the West, perhaps this music is just entertainment and I don't expect people to understand. But I hope some might take the time to listen and learn."
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
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