by Andrew Sacher


Sidi Touré, born in 1959 in the ancient town of Gao, Mali, made his first guitar as a child, constructing it from his wooden writing slate. Growing up, Sidi Touré faced a conflict between the inexorable pull of music and the expectations of family and society, plus the significance and onus of a past that came with being born into a noble family. The Touré family had been sung about, and sung to, by traditional griots for centuries, but until Sidi Touré challenged the rules as a small boy, the Touré's did not sing. Despite his family's disapproval, Sidi became the lead singer of his school's band, and then became the youngest member of Gao's regional orchestra, the Songhaï Stars, who played bi-annual festivals like the Bamako Biennale and toured both regionally and nationally. After winning the award for best singer twice, he took the band to the northern regions of Mali and to Niger, and toured much of the western Sahel region. Throughout his time making music, Sidi's sound has both captured and challenged his roots. His music moves from the translucent swaying takamba to the trance inducing Holley, while the lyrics often address many non-traditional issues. Sidi has a critical mind and his songs have a purpose. [Nat Geo Music]

Malian blues singer Sidi Touré has been making music in his home country since the 1970s and released his debut album, Hoga in 1996 on Stern's Records. In 2011, Sidi teamed up with the primarily indie rock label Thrill Jockey Records who released Sahel Folk, his second album and first in the 15 years since his debut. This past April, the label put out Sidi's third album, Koïma.

Where Sahel Folk focused on Sidi's guitar and voice and was an especially sparse album, Koïma brings in a group of collaborators who helped Sidi create a more communal work, complete with polyrhythmic percussion and prominent backing vocals. You can check out spotify streams of both albums and some videos below.

Last year, Sidi Touré went on his first North American tour which brought him to Chicago's World Music Festival, and NYC's Lincoln Center, among other places. He'll be heading out on another North American tour this summer, including two NYC shows: Joe's Pub on August 4 and a free Summerstage show at Marcus Garvey Park on August 6 with The Pedrito Martinez Group and Wouter Kellerman. Tickets for the Joe's Pub show are on sale now.

A list of all dates, videos, and album streams below...


Sidi Toure & friends in Chicago in 2011 (more by John Yingling)
Sidi Toure

Sidi Touré - "Ni See Ay Ga Done"

Sidi Touré on The Takeaway Show

Sidi Touré - "Artiatanat" with Yehiya Arby

Sidi Touré with Jambala Maïga - "Taray Kongo"

Sidi Touré -- 2012 Tour Dates
06/29 Marlboro, NY The Falcon
06/30 Hudson, NY Helsinki Hudson
07/02 Montreal, Quebec Montreal Jazz Festival
07/03 Montreal, Quebec Montreal Jazz Festival
07/05 Quebec City, Quebec Quebec D'Ete
07/06 Winnipeg, Manitoba Winnipeg Folk Festival
07/07 Winnipeg, Manitoba Winnipeg Folk Festival
07/12 Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia Harrison Hot Springs Festival
07/13 Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouver Folk Festival
07/14 Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouver Folk Festival
07/15 Vancouver, British Columbia Vancouver Folk Festival
07/20 Chicago, IL Old Town School Square Roots Festival
07/21 Chicago, IL Old Town School Square Roots Festival
07/22 Evanston, IL Ethnic Arts Festival
07/23 Chicago, IL Millenium Park
07/27 Toronto, Ontario Harbourfront
07/28 Guelph, Ontario Hillside Festival
07/29 Guelph, Ontario Hillside Festival
08/04 New York, NY Joe's Pub
08/05 Milheim, PA Elk Creek Café
08/06 New York, NY Marcus Garvey Park
08/07 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
08/10 Edmonton, Alberta Edmonton Folk Festival
08/11 Edmonton, Alberta Edmonton Folk Festival
08/12 Edmonton, Alberta Edmonton Folk Festival