Vieux Farka Touré

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Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Vieux Farka Touré is the second son of legendary Malian guitarist Ali Farka Touré. While staying true to his West African roots, Vieux’s music also incorporates influences such as American blues, rock, jazz, pop, and Latin music. Following his self-titled 2007 debut, he established his reputation as a world-class guitarist. He played at the FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in June of 2010, the same month he released Live, a document of his powers as a performer. He has collaborated with numerous musicians spanning several genres. His 2011 studio full-length The Secret included appearances by Dave Matthews, John Scofield, and Derek Trucks. He recorded two multilingual albums with Israeli pianist Idan Raichel as the Touré-Raichel Collective, and released Touristes with American ukulele player and vocalist Julia Easterlin in 2015. Soon after issuing the stripped-down 2022 solo effort Les Racines, Vieux released Ali, a collaboration with globe-trotting Texan trio Khruangbin, named in tribute to the guitarist’s late father.
Born in 1981, Vieux was drawn to music at a young age, and growing up in his father’s hometown of Niafunké and the Malian capital, Bamako, he began playing percussion, growing adept on both calabash and drum kit. For most of his early career, his father thwarted his musical desires, urging him instead to become a soldier and avoid the many problems he himself had endured by becoming an artist.
In 1999, Vieux became a student at the National Arts Institute in Bamako. Two years later, he secretly took up his father’s instrument, the guitar, and started writing his own music. During his tenure his ability developed, and by the time he graduated he’d become locally celebrated and able to play in the same desert blues style as his father. He became part of the group backing kora wizard Toumani Diabaté, who urged Ali to accept his son’s choice and begin encouraging him. With Diabaté, Vieux gained valuable international experience that would serve him well when he began his career. After being granted permission by his father and village elders, Vieux and producer Eric Herman began work on his solo debut in 2005. The self-titled album was released by World Village in 2007, establishing Vieux as his own force on the world music scene. It also contained the last recorded output of his father, who passed away in early 2006.
Over subsequent releases, Vieux began to extend beyond his father’s shadow, blending elements of Latin, rock, and jazz into his sound. He also collaborated with a variety of artists on a pair of remix albums that featured music from his first two efforts. Fondo (2009), his second studio effort, was his first release on Six Degrees Records. Live (2010) preceded The Secret (2011), an eclectic album produced by Eric Krasno (Soulive) and featuring appearances from Dave Matthews, Derek Trucks, John Scofield, and Ali. The Tel Aviv Session, the first of two releases with Idan Raichel as the Touré-Raichel Collective, appeared in 2012.
While preparing material for his fourth album, 2013′s Mon Pays, a political and territorial uprising broke out in Mali, painting a turbulent backdrop to an already thematic album about the beauty of his country. Following the Touré-Raichel Collective ’s 2014 effort The Paris Session and a 2015 collaborative album with American singer and ukulele player Julia Easterlin called Touristes, Vieux returned in 2017 with Samba, his fifth solo effort. Recorded in Woodstock, New York, in front of a live studio audience, the title refers not to the Latin music genre but to the Songhai word for “second boy,” which Vieux was frequently called while growing up. The back-to-his-roots efforts Les Racines appeared in 2022; he then teamed up with Khruangbin for the full-length Ali, released the same year. ~ Timothy Monger & Chris Nickson