World Watch: Vieux Farka Touré

Country: Mali

As close to Malian rock royalty as one can get, Vieux Farka Touré took up the guitar in secret, as his father, Grammy-award winning guitarist Ali Farka Touré, had wanted him to become a soldier like most other people in their tribe. We should all be thankful for Vieux’s act of defiance, or else we would have been denied the future recordings of the man dubbed “the Hendrix of the Sahara”.

Vieux’s guitar playing was unlike anything I had ever heard, the first time I listened to his second album Fondo. Relying on different scales than Western music, there was still and intricacy and beauty to his songs that was extremely accessible. Though the songs were sung in Malian, the songs stood simply on the musicianship on display. On his third album The Secret, Vieux made a bid for more commercial appeal, drafting Dave Matthews to sing on “All the Same”, and enlisting Derek Trucks to play on another song. Vieux has also recorded with Israeli singer Idan Raichel on a number of occasions. He’s a world music artist in every sense of the description, and deserves to be heard by the world.

His latest album,Samba, was released this last spring.

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