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Global Routes 

by Tony Burke

Vieux Farka Touré, son of Grammy Award winner and Malian national hero Ali Farka Touré has a new album out called Les Racines (“the roots”) on World Circuit which sees Vieux reconnect with the Songhai music of Northern Mali —  known as “Desert Blues.”

His father, who died in 2006, was the finest guitarist Africa has ever produced. Following in his father’s footsteps Vieux is now known as the “Hendrix of the Sahara.”

Because of the pandemic he spent two years making the album. “I’ve had a desire to do a more traditional album for a long time. It’s important to me and to Malian people that we stay connected to our roots and our history. Early in my career people asked why I wasn’t just following my father. But it was important for me to establish my own identity,” he says. “Now people know what I can do, I can return to those roots.” 

Recorded in Bamako in his home studio, the album is steeped in the mesmeric music of West Africa. With 10 original songs, Vieux addresses the problems Mali faces after a brutal civil war which saw Islamist militants destroy recording studios, close down radio stations and ban music in parts of the country.

“In Mali many people are illiterate — music is the main way of transmitting information and knowledge. My father fought for peace and we have an obligation to educate people about the problems facing our country and to rally people.” 

Les Racines is also a tribute to his father whose name is invoked in the album’s closing track Ndjehene Direne. “The album is an homage to my father but, just as importantly, to everything he represented and stood for.”

Les Racines is available on World Circuit Records.

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