The World Music Show →

Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure - from almost soldier to guitar legend

Vieux Farka Toure
World Music Show host Ian Stewart speaks with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure about his career, his new album and the legacy of his father. (Photo: Fatimata Vetu, courtesy of Vieux Farka Toure)

We all know many musicians -- especially Jazz ones -- like to improvise. Well, so do blues musicians like Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Toure. On Saturday’s World Music Show (10/23), I speak with Vieux about how he likes to keep his bandmates on their toes and about how his father, Ali Farka Toure, keeps influencing him even after his passing in 2006. 

Vieux is sometimes referred to as “The Hendrix of the Sahara” for his amazing skills on the guitar. Born in Niafunké, Mali in 1981, he defied his parents in becoming a musician. His father wanted him to become a soldier. But thanks to Toumani Diabaté, who is an amazing kora player, a family friend and has appeared many times on stage and album with Ali, Vieux was able to convince his father to give him his blessing to become a musician -- all shortly before Ali passed away. 

But guitar playing wasn’t Vieux’s first choice. Instead, he leaned toward drumming. However, he was later told by a teacher that Vieux had learned everything there was to know about drumming and that’s when he took up the guitar. 

We also talk about what he was doing during much of the pandemic, when he’ll tour again and when his new album will be released. You can listen to our entire interview or tune in for a brief snippet.

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Photo courtesy of the artist

Also on tonight’s show, I speak with documentary filmmaker Ian Campbell about his film “Vieux de Niafunké.” Campbell spent time prior to the pandemic (and some time during), traveling with Vieux while on tour and he also spent time traveling in Mali, meeting with Vieux’s family and friends. In the documentary, Campbell also speaks with actor Matthew McConaughey, who fell in love with Vieux’s music so much that he traveled to Bamako, Mali in search of him to have a conversation with him.

You can watch Ian’s amazing film “Vieux de Niafunké."

Besides the two great conversations, I’ve got a bunch of cool beats from bands like Delgres, Los Lobos, Lakou Mizak, Mexrrissey and Cornershop. Plus, tracks from solo musicians like Angelica Garcia, Moken, Meklit and Marta Gomez on the list too. 

The World Music Show airs every Saturday night from 6-8pm on VPM Music, heard locally in Richmond on 93.1 or 107.3FM or can be streamed right here. The show is made possible in part by members of VPM. Think about supporting shows like this by clicking on the donate button above.