Photo: Kiss Diouara.

Vieux Farka Touré Finds Truth In His Roots In 'Les Racines'

The legendary Malian guitarist's new album is a journey that has taken him home, bursting with love.

Vieux Farka Touré embraces his heritage on his new album Les Racines. Translated as 'The Roots,' the new album rings out with the traditional northern Mali sounds of Songhai Music made famous by his late father, Ali Farka Touré. As the son who has spent a lifetime establishing his own identity as a musician, it took the lockdowns of the Covid pandemic for Vieux Farka Touré to reconnect with the 'desert blues' and create a record that yearns for his people to come together in a country that is troubled with the ceaseless violence of tribal and ethnic tensions. Les Racines is a journey that has taken him home, bursting with love.

The 41-year-old singer and guitarist had to battle for his father's acceptance to allow him to follow in his footsteps. The blessing, finally being given when Ali Farka Touré laid down tracks on his son's eponymous debut album, Vieux Farka Touré, in 2007. His father's initial reticence has had a long-lasting impression on the choices Vieux Farka Touré has made throughout his career. Pushing the boundaries of Western African music with collaborations with musicians such as Dave Matthews, jazz guitarist John Schofield and an album with American singer-songwriter Julia Easterlin, he has until now ploughed his own furrow.

On Les Racines, a host of world-class musicians from Mali, West and Central Africa and the U.S including Amadou & Miriam, Moussa Dembelé, Marshall Henry and Cheick Tidiane Seck help deliver the album's message in a way that he explains is to "not abandon the past."

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Amadou & Mariam Forever

We talk to the legendary Malian duo about their rich past, songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities.

Amadou & Mariam don't require an introduction.

The couple has been making Afro-blues music for over 35 years, drawing inspiration from their home of Mali, for over 35 years.

Their 1999 albumSou Ni Tilé sold 100,000 copies. In 2005, their album Dimanche à Bamako won the French Victoire de la Musique prize for Best World Music Album of the year and the BBC Radio 3 Award for Africa. It also went platinum in France after selling over 300,000 copies. The duo have performed with U2, Coldplay, Blur and many others.

We caught up with them below for a conversation about their rich past, their songwriting process and their advice for young African artists with disabilities, ahead of the duo's performance at the upcoming London Jazz Festival 2021.

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