Being the child of a music legend is not without its challenges, especially if you’re trying to carve out a path in the same field as your famous parent. There’s no right way to do it, but Vieux Farka Toure – son of the late guitarist and singer Ali Farka Toure, Mali’s “King of Desert Blues”– has handled it better than most. Rather than distancing himself from his father’s legacy, you could say that Vieux has expanded upon it, picking up where the elder Toure left off.
At first, Vieux’s dream of becoming a musician was opposed by Ali, who was acutely aware of the cutthroat nature of the music business. Vieux pressed on regardless, first learning the djembe before moving on to guitar, then enrolling at Mali’s prestigious National School of the Arts to receive professional tuition. Ali, perhaps impressed by his son’s tenacity, changed his stance, and in 2004 devoted himself to teaching his signature guitar style to Vieux. It wasn’t a moment too soon: within two years, Ali Farka Toure had passed away from cancer.
Vieux’s debut album arrived in 2007. Since then, he has walked a tightrope of staying true to his heritage while also pursuing innovative collaborations, such as the 2015 album Touristes with American singer Julia Easterlin, or his partnership with Israeli keyboardist and singer Idan Raichel in The Toure-Raichel Collective. 2022, however, has seen Vieux return to his roots. His album Les Racines, released earlier this year, specifically addresses the ongoing turmoil in his homeland of Mali. Taking things even closer to home, this new album, Ali, is an unabashed tribute to the music of his father.