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In the early ’90s, the nomadic Tuareg people of Niger and Mali (West Africa) rebelled. Laid low by drought and abandoned by governments, they fought to establish a Tuareg nation. That dream was never realized, but the rebellion did inspire a tradition of guitar-wielding rebel rockers with songs of suffering and nostalgia, and Niger’s Bombino (Oumara Moctar) was one of them.
After years of honing his skills back home (practising to the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Ali Farka Touré) and spending time as a shepherd in Libya, Bombino left Africa. His first full release, titled Agadez, showcased the musician’s captivating vocals and hypnotic guitar playing, and became one of NPR’s best discoveries of 2011. For his second album, 2013’s Nomad, he travelled to Nashville to record with the Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach. The result was a marvelous set – full of grit and funky elegance – which firmly established Bombino as one of the world’s best guitarists.
His third and fourth studio albums also garnered rave reviews, including a full-page feature in The New York Times, which dubbed Bombino ‘The Sultan of Shred’. 2018’s Deran received the first-ever Grammy nomination for an artist from Niger, and led to a homecoming parade in Bombino’s honor. The artist’s latest album, Live In Amsterdam, was recorded at a performance in November 2019 and dedicated to his dear friend and bandmate Illias Mohamed, who tragically passed away just a few weeks before its release in late 2020.