A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Refreshing Spring Albums
By Cynthia Nakpodia-Ribeiro & Keishel Williams
World Village

You might think he suddenly appeared out of the woods but Vieux Farka Touré has been honing and waiting to unleash his skills for years. As Vieux may well be aware, when you're the son of an internationally acclaimed music star- a la Fela/Femi Kuti and Bob/Damian Marley-you have big shoes to fill. Though his father- the late, great Ali Farka Touré- may have been a super-star on the world music stage, Vieux's debut carries the Malian blues music of the elder Touré's time into a new age.

Desert blues never sounded so fresh-infused with reggae and rock. He collaborated with his father on the Tabara and Diallo tracks. He also worked with master of the kora, Toumani Diabaté, and a slew of veteran and young Malian talents. Vieux's keen musical gifts are well displayed on this album, the edginess of his electric guitar rushes through your veins while the bluesy trumpets and flutes make for that "feel good" sensation.

While Vieux is certainly set to follow in his two-time Grammy-winning father's footsteps, his success will be on his own terms-with his own niche and his own voice.


Their music style is dubbed "nomadic blues" owing to the fusion of blues and traditional music from Sahelian nomadic groups in Niger, West Africa. Etran Finatawa is comprised of Tuareg and Wodaabe musicians who seamlessly incorporate the traditional vocal harmonies of the Wodaabe to the Tuaregs' love for infusing traditional, modern and percussion instruments.

The drums, hand clapping, and chanting that the group bring to this album carry us to the far Sahara deserts where their culture is warm and inviting. The calabash and the odiliri (traditional flute) can be heard clearly especially on "Maleele."

The blues element comes through in their use of the electric guitar, its rhythms convey a modern sensibility in the album that all music lovers and fans can readily embrace. Though this might be considered a full on dance album, it has a few softer songs that take on seductive tones like "Iledeman." The track is organic and sensual as the electric guitar slides amidst mesmerizing, slow chanting- giving it a roots reggae undertone that's alluring.

Etran Finatawa can certainly cross borders.