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Ali Farka Toure


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Guitarist, Mjarka Player, Singer, Songwriter, Farmer. 16 albums; one Grammy; the Merite National du Mali Award. Born in the Timbuktu region of Mali, Ali Farka Toure got serious about the guitar at the age of 17. More than a decade later, he saw Detroit bluesman John Lee Hooker playing a show in Bamako. On first listen he thought Hooker was playing Malian songs. Roughly 20 years later, with the release of his first albums in the West, Toure was being billed as the African John Lee Hooker. Despite the occassional collaboration with Ry Cooder and others, Toure prefers to play traditional Malian music and he likes to play it straight. Sometimes (he) picks up his Njarka, a one string African violin, and saws away at it like someone possessed. Toure has mixed feelings about making a living by turning his music into popular entertainment--since releasing the typically great Niafunke, in 1999, and touring the world soon afterward, Toure has returned to his fruit-and-rice farm in his native country. (Vanity Fair - November '04)

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