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Musician Markus James Remembers Ali Farka Toure
Published March 8, 2006

Markus James  was recently with Ali Farka Toure in Mali, January 2006, a few weeks before Ali's passing,  and shares these thoughts and remembrances about his long-time friend and inspiration:

"Ali Farka Toure was one of the greats.  He translated some very precious traditional music onto the guitar, which he played with a grace and elegance like no one else. It happens that these musical traditions represent the ancient roots of Blues music. I believe that he will be known to future generations as a seminal figure in music, along with the greatest musicians from other eras and cultures. But Ali was much more than a musician: he was a man of his people. Besides supporting hundreds directly, he was a major source of inspiration to millions, enlightening their lives with pride in their cultures, which had seemed in recent

generations to be devalued or unknown by an apparently oblivious world.

Ali touched many lives, beyond his music; he would easily and tirelessly advise, mediate, acknowledge, and give what he could of that most precious gift: respect.  Over the last 12 years I have come to have the impression that virtually everyone from Mopti to Gao has their own story about Ali, and as is usually the case with these things, it's as much about them as it is about Ali.  For this toubab (white person), Ali was my hero, and my friend.