All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Ali Farka Toure

Ali Farka Toure Ali Farka Toure

A unique tale of a world respected musician, who deep in his heart considered himself but a humble farmer.

Ali Farka Touré was born in 1939 in the village of Kanau on the banks of the River Niger in the north west of Mali. He was his mothers’ tenth son but the first to survive infancy. When Ali was still an infant his father died while serving in the French army, and the family moved south along the river to Niafunké, the village Ali called home for the rest of his life. People make their living by farming, cattle herding and fishing. There is no tradition of music in his family, but he had a calling early on in life, becoming drawn to music by its power. He was a child of the river.

In Niafunké, as in the most of Mali, the dominant religion is Islam and Ali was a devout Muslim. But in this part of the world Islam co-exists with an indigenous belief in the mysterious power of the Niger. It is believed that under the water there are spirits called Ghimbala, male and female djinns with their own character, history, symbolic colors and ritual objects, all vividly portrayed in the local mythology. These djinns control both the spiritual and temporal world. Those who have the gift to communicate with the spirits are called children of the river. He was mesmerized by the music played at Ghimbala spirit ceremonies in the villages along the banks of the Niger. He would sit and listen in awe as musicians sang and played the favored instruments of the spirits; djerkel single string guitar, njarka single string violin and ngoni four string lute, at the age of twelve he fashioned his first instrument, a djerkel guitar.

Read more

Tags

Extended Analysis
Album Review
Read more articles

Photos

Albums

Album Ali and Toumani by Ali Farka Toure

Ali and Toumani

World Circuit
2010

buy
Album Red & Green by Ali Farka Toure

Red & Green

Nonesuch Records
2005

buy
Album In the Heart of the Moon by Ali Farka Toure

In the Heart of the...

World Circuit
2005

buy
Album Red & Green by Ali Farka Toure

Red & Green

World Circuit
2004

buy

Watch

Similar

Salif Keita Salif Keita
voice / vocals
Youssou N'Dour Youssou N'Dour
voice / vocals

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

MUSICSTACK
Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
AMAZON
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
HD TRACKS
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
CD UNIVERSE
Specializing in music, movies and video games
REVERB
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.