I was going to write an obituary to Ali Farka Touré, the amazing Mali guitarist, farmer, and village leader who passed away last month (and whose death is just being made public this week). I was beaten to it by a friend in the radio industry who wrote: “Malian musician Ali Farke Toure has died. I play his music a lot at the station, which is how I was introduced to him. It sucks that this great musician played for so many years and I had to actually go work at a radio station to learn about him. We should have two moments of silence: one, for the passing of Farke Toure, and another, for the humungous blinders that shut America off from most world music.”
I feel the same way and feel as though I’m part of the problem. I’ve known of Touré’s music for at least ten years, since the 1994 release of his Grammy-winning collaboration with Ry Cooder, Talking Timbuktu. But I haven’t proselytized him the way I have other musicians like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Youssou N’Dour, or even Kathryn Tickell. I haven’t even put his music on a mix.
There is a great remembrance of Touré on Blogcritics today which gives some impressions of the man himself; well worth reading.