Vieux Farka Touré, the son of Malian desert blues legend Ali Farka Touré, is set to release his acclaimed new album Mon Pays, a homage to his stricken homeland, in the UK on 26 August, as well as playing two London dates this summer. A track from his 2011 album The Secret recently appeared on Music Rough Guides' release The Rough Guide to African Music for Children.
This Rough Guide contains a collection of joyful tracks that have been road-tested and hand-picked to entertain children the world over. Celebrate in the creative sounds of Congolese band Staff Benda Bilili, Malagasy maestro Lala Njava and Malian marvels Amadou & Mariam.
Planned before the invasions began, and inspired by Vieux's collaborations with the Israeli artist Idan Raichel, Mon Pays became an effort to preserve what seemed like a disappearing musical heritage under Islamic militant occupation. 'I wanted to pay homage to our musical heritage,' Touré says. '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.'
Mon Paysis an album that is brimming with the soul and spectular guitar work that affirms Vieux's inheritance of his father's reputation as one of the finest desert bluesmen. Yet the crisis in Mali dominates the whole record, making this record unique in Touré's pantheon. The banning of 'Western' music where Islamist groups had control in the North of Mali was tragic for musicians such as Touré, especially given Mali's rich and vibrant musical culture.
'The Islamists in the north are not true Muslims,' Touré concludes. 'They are militant groups that are only interested in their own power. They are hypocrites. Banning music was another way to control the people. Music for us is life. When we have no music, it is like we have no life. Without music we are robbed of our identity.' Mon Pays,imbued with the urgency and poignancy of an endangered music, is Touré's most engaged and mature work yet.
27 July - Open East Festival, London, UK
24 September - Southbank Centre, London, UK