One of Africa’s best-loved musicians has passed away in his sleep after a long battle with cancer. Ali Farka Touré, who was in his late sixties, was the holder of two Grammy awards. “I didn’t choose music as a career,” he was once quoted as saying. “It’s a natural gift that came to me. It’s as if it were a message that God planted in my heart.” Farka Touré‘s music was an innovative mix of the traditions of his native Northern Mali and American blues, which he was convinced had its origins in West Africa. International recognition came due to a collaboration with the US blues legend Ry Cooder in 1994.During the Tuareg rebellion of the 1990s, Farka Touré gained a reputation as a diplomat by singing his songs in all of the country’s languages. He died in Bamako, the capital of Mali, but will be buried more than 800 kilometres to the north in the town of Niafunke, where he had been elected mayor. His widow and eleven children will be at his graveside.