Sidi Touré is a Songhai singer-songwriter from the city of Gao in northern Mali. Though he grew up in a royal family, he sings the blues elegantly and in his own native language; interestingly, Touré has said he'd never heard American blues music until after his first album was released.
After rising to fame in his home country in the 1980s — while singing with a local group called The Songhai Stars — Touré didn't record his first EP until 1996. Since then, he's also released two full-length albums and toured North America for the first time in 2011.
Touré recently released a new album titled Koima, which means "go hear." He's accompanied by a female singer, a guitar, a single-stringed fiddle called a soukou and a calabash gourd for percussion. The record serves as a tribute to his beloved hometown of Gao, which he discusses in this World Cafe session. Here, Touré talks with WXPN's Michaela Majoun about growing up in Mali, his music career and his latest album.