One of Africa's most renowed musicians, Ali Farka Toure, has died in his home country of Mali.

Mali's Culture Ministry announced Tuesday that Toure passed away after a long illness. He was about 66 years old.

Toure was a singer and accomplished guitar player, and helped create a genre known as Mali Blues, which combined traditional African sounds with black American music. He cited many Western musicians as a source of inspiration, with special praise for the American blues legend John Lee Hooker.

Toure was best known overseas for his mid-1990s collaboration with American guitarist Ry Cooder. Their Talking Timbuktu album netted Toure his first Grammy Award

He won a second Grammy this year for his In the Heart of the Moon album.

Toure was beloved in Mali, and radio stations suspended their normal programming Tuesday to play his songs.