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Sidi Touré

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Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Sidi Touré is somewhat well known in his native Mali as much for his family's name and royal lineage as for his music. Touré, much like fellow countryman Ali Farka Touré (though he is from Gao, not Bamako), plays an original droning kind of songhai blues. Songhai is the language of his native Gao. He was born in 1959. He created his first guitar when still a child, but his royal family, who had often been sung about in their ancient town, had never produced an actual musician; they pushed him to pursue another career. Touré rebelled and began singing in his school's band, and later became chief vocalist in the regional orchestra the Songhaï Stars. He competed in -- and won -- two consecutive Malian Biennale festivals in 1984 and 1986 (the first with a self-penned composition). Touré toured with the band. After many difficulties getting gigs, the band split in 1990. Touré spent a year singing with the Carnaval Band of Maradi in Niger, then relocated to Bamako in 1992 and sang for the National Badema -- the former band of Kassé-Mady Diabaté. Touré's sound has both captured and challenged his roots. It encompasses numerous traditions from songhai to takamba to the trance-like holley, and he sings of many non-traditional subjects. Touré released his first solo album, Hoga, on the Stern's imprint in 1996, though the album did not sell well enough for a follow-up. He continued to tour with his own band from the northern regions of Mali and Niger to the western Sahel region. He was captured live on the streets of Gao by guerilla director Vincent Moon (Mathieu Saura) for an episode of his French TV program Take Away. In 2011, Touré issued his second full-length, Sahel Folk, which was recorded as a live series of acoustic duets with friends at his sister's house for the Thrill Jockey label. His sophomore offering for them, Koïma, was recorded with a backing quartet at a studio in Bamako and released in the spring of 2012. He followed this with Alafia in the fall of 2013, which was recorded in both Bamaklo and Nantes, France during one of the most contentious and fractious period's in Mali's modern history. ~ Thom Jurek

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