Born Ali Ibrahim in 1939 in the village of Kanau on the banks of the River Niger in northwest Mali, he never knew his exact date of birth. The tenth son born to parents who claimed noble descent, he was the first to survive infancy and as a child acquired the nickname Farka, meaning donkey and indicating not slow-wittedness but strength and tenacity...
For a time, he planned to becoming a priest, not in his Islamic faith but in the local djinn-based religion, before he eventually decided the powers of the spirit world were too dangerous to meddle with. “These spirits can be good or bad to you, so I decided just to sing about them,” he explained many years later. “But it’s our culture, so we can’t pass it by.” As a teenager, he worked variously as an apprentice to a tailor, a taxi driver, car mechanic and a pilot on the river, while continuing to play music in spiritual ceremonies and for pleasure, mastering a number of traditional instruments.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Ali Farka Toure
Today is a sad one. In addition to creating beautiful music, lived a fascinating life.