Ali Farka Touré

October 31, 1939 – March 06, 2006

Modern Period

Born in Mali

A native of Mali, Touré was the first African-born blues artist to gain acclaim on his home continent. Though compared to the legendary John Lee Hooker for his guitar style, he would sing in one of four traditional African languages. His music was featured in several films and TV programs, and he played an intricate part in the Martin Scorsese’s 2003 documentary, “Feel Like Going Home,” which traced blues music back to its roots in West Africa.

He received two Grammy Awards for his music and in 2004, became mayor of Niafunké, an impoverished town that benefitted from his generosity as he used his own money to put in sewer canals, grade the roads, and fuel a generator to provide electricity.

Though he died from bone cancer in 2006, you can hear him on the soundtrack of the hit film “Black Panther” in Idrissa Soumaoro’s song Bèrèbèrè.