Bombino (musician)

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Bombino Niederstetten 02.JPG
Bombino performing at the Kult in Niederstetten, Germany
Background information
Birth nameGoumar Almoctar
Tidene, Niger
GenresRock, blues, Tuareg music
Occupation(s)Musician, singer
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
LabelsCumbancha Discovery, Nonesuch, Partisan
Associated actsGroup Bombino, Dan Auerbach David Longstreth
At Aarhus Festival, Denmark 2018
Bombino performing live at the Druga Godba Festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia (2014)

Omara "Bombino" Moctar (in Tifinagh ⴱⵓⵎⴱⵉⵏⵓ; b. 1980) is a Nigerien singer-songwriter and guitarist. His music is sung in Tamasheq and often address geopolitical concerns in Turag.[1] He is also a lead member of Group Bombino. Bombino is the subject of the documentary film Agadez, the Music and the Rebellion.


Bombino was born in 1980 in Tidene, Niger, a Tuareg encampment about 80 kilometers northeast of Agadez. He is a member of the Ifoghas tribe, which belongs to the Kel Air Tuareg federation.[2] Following the outbreak of the Tuareg Rebellion in 1990, Bombino, along with his father and grandmother, were forced to flee to neighboring Algeria for safety.[2] During this time, visiting relatives left behind a guitar, and Bombino began to teach himself how to play.[3] He later studied with renowned Tuareg guitarist, Haja Bebe. Bebe asked him to join his band where he gained the nickname "Bombino", which is derived from the Italian word "bambino", that means 'little child'. While living in Algeria and Libya in his teen years, Bombino and his friends watched videos of Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler and others to learn their styles. He worked as both a musician and a herder in the desert near Tripoli. By 1997, Bombino had returned to Agadez and began life as a professional musician.

Filmmaker Hisham Mayet managed to track down and record Bombino and his electric band Group Bombino in 2007 during a wedding performance. Those recordings, along with several acoustic performances in the 'dry guitar' style, can be heard on the Sublime Frequencies' 2009 release, Group Bombino - Guitars from Agadez, vol. 2.[4] Later in 2007, tensions grew again in Niger and ultimately erupted into another Tuareg Rebellion. The government, hoping to thwart the rebellion in all its forms, banned guitars for the Tuareg, as the instrument was seen as a symbol of rebellion. Bombino remarked in an interview, "I do not see my guitar as a gun but rather as a hammer with which to help build the house of the Tuareg people."[5] Additionally, two of Bombino's fellow musicians were executed, thus forcing him into exile.[6]

In January 2010 Bombino was able to return to his home in Agadez. So as to celebrate the end of the conflict, a large concert was organized at the base of the Grand Mosque in Agadez, having received the blessing of the Sultan[clarification needed]. Bombino and his band played to over a thousand people at the concert, all dancing and celebrating the end of their struggle.

While Bombino lived in exile in Burkina Faso, filmmaker Ron Wyman, having heard cassette recordings of his music, decided to track him down. Wyman encouraged Bombino to properly record his music. Bombino agreed, and the two of them with the help of Chris Decato produced an album together in Agadez. The recordings culminated in his album Agadez, released in April, 2011 which debuted at the top of the iTunes World Chart.[7]

The success of Agadez attracted many musical stars to Bombino including Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. In June 2012, Auerbach began producing Bombino's second international solo album titled Nomad. Nomad was released by Nonesuch Records on April 2, 2013[3][8] and debuted at number one on the iTunes World Chart and Billboard World Chart.[3][9] Bombino began a concert tour of the United States in May 2013.[3] The tour includes appearances at major music festivals, including Bonnaroo and The Newport Folk Festival. In 2013, Bombino was also invited to open for Robert Plant, Amadou & Mariam and Gogol Bordello.[10]

On April 1, 2016 Bombino released Azel. Produced by David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, the album brings Bombino's guitar playing to the forefront while staying true to his desert blues roots as he sings in his native language of Tamasheq. Pitchfork's Andy Beta notes more specifically that the record "features a sublime iteration of desert blues that’s both authentic and ambitious." [11]

For his sixth studio album, Deran, Bombino recorded in Casablanca at Studio HIBA, a recording studio owned by the king of Morocco. In May 2018, ahead of the album's release, the music blog, Noisey, called Bombino, "the World's Best Guitarist™."[12] Then, on the day before Deran's release, Bombino was dubbed "the Sultan of Shred" by the New York Times,[13] a nickname that was then adopted by several news outlets around the world. Deran was officially released on May 18, 2018, and was received with wide-spread acclaim for both its musicality and its embracement of culture and heritage. Jason Heller of NPR wrote that Bombino's performance on the album, "speaks and breathes across centuries."[14] Deran was nominated in the category of Best World Music Album at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.[15] Bombino is the first Nigerien artist to be nominated for a Grammy award. [16]



  1. ^ Tsioulcas, Anastasia (24 March 2013). "First Listen: Bombino, 'Nomad'". Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Bombino Biography". Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Bombino's New Album Nomad Due April 2nd". 1 February 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  4. ^ "Group Bombino: Guitars From Agadez Vol. 2 LP". Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  5. ^ "Interview with Bombino: "I envied Jimi Hendrix's freedom"". Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  6. ^ Turner, Jill (10 February 2010). "Bombino gets European release for his album Agadez on Cumbancha". Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  7. ^ Heselgrave, Doug (8 February 2011). "Silk and Sandpaper - new music from the desert". Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Nonesuch to Release New Album from Tuareg Guitarist/Singer Bombino in Early 2013". 5 November 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  9. ^ "Bonnaroo Bio". 13 June 2013. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  10. ^ "Bombino Official Tour Dates". 13 June 2013. Retrieved 13 June 2013.
  11. ^ "Bombino: Azel Album Review - Pitchfork". Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  12. ^ Lipez, Zachary (March 6, 2018). "Bombino, the World's Best Guitarist™, Shares New Song "Tehigren"". Noisey.
  13. ^ Rubin, Mike (May 17, 2018). "How Bombino Became the Sultan of Shred". New York Times.
  14. ^ Heller, Jason (May 10, 2018). "'Deran' Returns To Bombino's Roots". National Public Radio.
  15. ^ "2019 GRAMMY Awards: Complete Nominations List". Retrieved 21 Jan 2019.
  16. ^ Lang, Audrey (Jan 10, 2019). "Bombino, the First Nigerien Artist to Be Nominated For a Grammy". Okay Africa. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  17. ^ Pareles, Jon (20 January 2017). "Residente Chases His Muse, at the Genetic Level". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 11 April 2017.

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