Vieux Farka Touré
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Often referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara”, Vieux Farka Touré was born in Niafunké, Mali in 1981. He is the son of legendary Malian guitar player Ali Farka Touré, who died in 2006. Ali Farka Touré came from a historical tribe of soldiers, and defied his parents in becoming a musician. When Vieux was in his teens, he declared that he also wanted to be a musician. His father dissaproved due to the pressures he had experienced being a musician. Rather, he wanted Vieux to become a soldier. But with help from family friend the kora maestro Toumani Diabaté, Vieux eventually convinced his father to give him his blessing to become a musician shortly before Ali passed.
Vieux was initially a drummer / calabash player at Mali’s Institut National des Arts, but secretly began playing guitar in 2001. Ali Farka Touré was weakened with cancer when Vieux announced that he was going to record an album. Ali recorded a couple of tracks with him, and these recordings, which can be heard on Vieux’s debut CD, were amongst his final ones. It has been said that the senior Touré played rough mixes of these songs when people visited him in his final days, at peace with, and proud of, his son’s talent as a musician.
In 2013, Vieux Farka Touré’s beautiful and critically acclaimed latest album Mon Pays was released as an homage to his homeland. Being that his native Mali had recently been splintered by territorial fighting between Tuareg and Islamic rebels since January 2012, Mon Pays was devoted to reminding the world about the beauty and culture of his native Mali. Translated as ‘My Country,’ this predominantly acoustic undertaking transformed into an artifact of cultural preservation. Two songs on the project -Future’ and ‘Peace’ feature Sidiki Diabate’s kora leading an emotional charge complemented by Touré’s spectacular guitar work. Both tracks represent an important generational “passing of the torch” as Sidiki’s father, Toumani is considered one of the greatest living kora masters and was a close friend of Vieux’s father Ali. Mon Pays has been widely hailed as the most mature and lovely record yet from one of this generation’s most exciting artists to come out of Mali and one of world music’s true rising stars.
Vieux reunited with Idan Raichel in Paris to record, release and subsequently tour their 2nd collaborative album as The Touré-Raichel Collective in 2014. The result was yet another musical and critical triumph, titled ‘The Paris Session’ (Cumbancha) revered by many as not just a musical gem for the ages but a powerful testimonial to the power of art and fraternity to transcend vast cultural and political divides. In 2015, Vieux released another unexpected, genre-bending collaborative album, this time with New York-based singer Julia Easterlin, aptly titled ‘Touristes’. The album shot to the top of the iTunes World chart and earned critical acclaim, including that of John Schaefer (NPR) who called it “brilliant.” With each new project, Vieux expands his horizons, embraces new challenges and further entrenches his reputation as one of the world’s most talented and innovative musicians.
María Fernanda González (Mafer Bandola) is a bandola llanera player, educator and journalist from Barquisimeto, Venezuela. (The Bandola is a traditional Venezuelan instrument of four strings). She is one of the few women in the world to play the instrument, also experimenting with different sounds, and is the first woman to play the electric version of this instrument. Taking both to important music festivals around the world and promoting the integration of women into the field of interpreting traditional Venezuelan instruments.
DJ.HENRI FROM RADIOAFRICAONLINE.COM
dj.henri has long specialized in the music of Mali and Guinea, as well as Desert Music. He has opened for Salif Keita three times, Vieux Farka Toure twice, Habib Koite, Tinariwen, and Rokia Traore. He’s been booked at the Apollo Theater, B.B. King’s, the Mercury Lounge, Symphony Space, the Brooklyn Bowl, Joe’s Pub, and many other venues. dj.henri has opened many “Desert Blues” shows for the prestigious World Music Institute. His station Radio Africa Online is the longest-running Africa all-music station online, and his podcast, Radio Africa Online Mixes, is featured in the iTunes Store and elsewhere, enjoying 50 terabytes of traffic annually.