Hendrix of The Sahara; Vieux Farka Toure's Struggle
Vieux Farka Touré's beautiful latest album is titled Mon Pays for a reason. Mon Pays, translates to “my country” in English and when you understand that this homage to his homeland, Mali is also an affirmation of self. Son of the legendary Ali Farka Toure, Vieux is his own man. Known as “The Hendrix of The Sahara,” he comes from a family steeped in military tradition, a tradition his father defied by becoming a musician (which in Mali really is like giving up a good job to become a vagrant). An ironic situation for a soul to be in, given Mali’s situation.
Mon Pays is a statement on that situation, the statement of a man who’s given up the physics of the fight. A spiritual warrior Mali needs as it has been splintered by territorial fighting between Tuareg and Islamic rebels since January 2012, his new album, Mon Pays, is devoted to reminding the world about the beauty and culture of his homeland.
"For me it is a statement for the world that this land is for the sons and daughters of Mali, not for Al Qaeda or any militants. This land is for peace and beauty, rich culture and tolerance.This is our heritage, what we must always fight to protect in any way that we can. For me, that means making music that reminds the world of who we are."
Translating as ‘My Country,’ this predominantly acoustic undertaking had been planned before the invasions began. Inspired by his work with Israeli pianist and vocalist Idan Raichel, Touré initially went into a Bamako studio to honor the acoustic blues tradition of Northern and Southern Mali. Since that time, Mon Pays went from VFT’s new album, into an artifact of cultural preservation and a listen into a world that is changing in irrecoverable ways.
Mon Pays is perhaps Toure’s most mature record yet, with his country’s future in limbo, he makes a statement for the people and the story that flows from their hearts. Dope.
(main photo credit: Zeb Goodell)