Vieux Farka Toure
Since his childhood, Vieux Farka Touré has been deeply inspired by the music of his father, Ali Farka Touré. Growing up in Mali's capital, Bamako, as well as in his father's hometown of Niafunké in the Sahara desert -- both teeming with rich musical life -- Vieux proved himself a precocious talent as a drummer and calabash player. Ali, however, grew concerned about his son's future as he observed his son's budding musical gifts. Having long suffered in the music industry himself before finally finding a home with World Circuit Records, Ali did not want his son to have to have to face the same hardships. He forbid Vieux to play music and decided that Vieux should become a soldier instead. Vieux, as stubborn as his father's moniker Farka (donkey) suggested, began instead to play along with his father's recordings in hiding, determined to pursue his musical aspirations.
In 1999, Vieux -- now a young man -- decided to take his destiny into his own hands. He enrolled in the National Arts Institute in Bamako, openly defying his father's wishes. It was there that Vieux truly discovered his musical calling, picking up the guitar and beginning to compose his own music. By the time he left the Arts Institute, he was already a locally celebrated guitar virtuoso, able to almost perfectly emulate his father's playing. Word began to spread throughout Bamako that Ali's successor was emerging. It was then that Toumani Diabaté -- the world's premiere kora player -- first took notice of Vieux, and brought him into his performing ensemble. Recognizing Vieux's abilities, Toumani urged Ali to accept his son's chosen path. Ali agreed, and under Toumani's artistic guidance, Vieux flourished. He performed in France and South Africa and even began to accompany his father on guitar. At the same time, his own stunning compositions introduced new sounds and influences into the tradition of desert blues from Northern Mali.
In 2005, Vieux reconnected with his friend Eric Herman, a North American musician and producer with whom Vieux had played while he was a student at the Arts Institute. Both Vieux and Eric realized that it was time that Vieux record his debut album. They quickly got to work in the studio to record an album for Herman's label, Modiba Productions. Toumani agreed to contribute his awesome talent on two of the tracks. Meanwhile, Ali -- growing increasingly ill with cancer -- performed the final recordings of his career for Vieux's album. This was the ultimate expression of approval of his son's path, and in these historic recordings at Studio Bogolan, Ali officially passed Vieux the torch with which to light his way.