Born in 1980 in the nomadic Tuareg encampment Tidene, just outside Agadez, Niger, Bombino (born Goumour Almoctar, also known as Oumara Moctar) came of age during much political upheaval, fleeing with his family to Algeria by 1990, teaching himself guitar by watching videos of his heroes Jimi Hendrix, Dire Straits, Ali Farka Toure and Tinariwen, and returning to northern Niger’s largest city, Agadez, seven years later, when he took on music professionally. After years of honing his skills back home and spending time as a shepherd in Libya, he first left Africa and traveled to California in 2006 as lead soloist on tour with Tidawt. There he recorded a desert blues take on the Rolling Stones classic “Hey Negrita” alongside Keith Richards and Charlie Watts. The following year, filmmaker Hisham Mayet captured Bombino and his electric band for the recording Music from Niger: Guitars from Agadez, Vol. 2, released in 2009 on Sublime Frequencies, Bombino’s first official album release.
His most recent album, Deran, was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco with just his band and his long-time manager, Eric Herman (who produced the album). The album received rave reviews from across the globe including a full page feature in the New York Times which dubbed Bombino ‘The Sultan of Shred’. On December 7, 2019, Deran was nominated for a Grammy award (Best World Music Album), the first-ever Grammy nomination for an artist from Niger.
Four thousand years of living in a hostile environment taught the Tuareg that the will to survive with dignity intact is stronger than any external threat. Bombino puts that sentiment to music, writes its anthem, and gives it a life of its own. He is known as being emblematic of the next generation of Tuareg, a new voice of the Sahara and Sahel, fusing traditional Berber rhythms with the energy of rock and roll and songs about peace. After thirty years of drought, rebellion, and tyranny, Bombino extols his audience to remember who they are, but also realize who they can be. [*1 ]
[*1 ] Editor note: This biography is based largely on an interview conducted with Bombino in December 2010 and on materials prepared by Ron Wyman of Zero Gravity Films.
AthensCalling G.R Team, was impressed by the amazing music of BOMBINO and had a really interesting on line conversation, with Omara “Bombino” Moctar the great living blues guitarist, before 27 June 2019. (ATHENS PLISSKEN FESTIVAL)
ATHENS CALLING: Hello Bombino…it is a great time for us, chatting with one of the world’s greatest living blues guitarists. Welcome to AthensCalling G.R my friend!
BOMBINO: Thank you, thank you so much. It is my pleasure!
ATHENS CALLING: At first we would like to talk about your name … why BOMBINO who is the Godfather of this stage name?
BOMBINO: This is a name that I have had as an artist since I was a teenager. The first group I ever played with was that of the great Nigerien bandleader Haja Bebe, a wonderful mentor to me in my career. I was the lead soloist of this group when I was about fifteen years old, and at that time I was half the age of the rest of the bandmembers. So, they began to call me ‘Bambino’ which means ‘baby’ in Italian. This somehow became ‘Bombino’ and it stuck with me in my professional life.
ATHENS CALLING: Now we would like to talk about your songs, what is the reason that you write the lyrics and the music of your songs?
BOMBINO: It is love that inspires my song-writing. I sing about the love I have for my wife and my children, my friend, my culture and the Tuareg people, and the great ‘Tenere’ (Sahara) desert that is my home. I sing about the problems that effect these things that I love, and I sing about the joy that they bring me.
ATHENS CALLING: …‘’Deran’’ is the title of your seventh studio album and I think that is a great album, but I want to tell us your opinion about it. … And your favorite song of ‘’Deran’’ ?
BOMBINO: Of course I love the album Deran as I love all the albums we have made. I consider each like one of my children. I think the most popular song from Deran is ‘Tehigren’ which became very popular in Niger and is a favorite for us to play around the world. For me, personally, I also love Midiwan. It is a soft piece that touches my soul, so I consider it a favorite.
ATHENS CALLING: Something now about the global economic and social crisis, what have you to say about all that happening in the world? Indeed, do you see any ……… ‘’light’’ in the tunnel of the world crisis?
BOMBINO: Yes, I am hopeful for the world. I see our situation in Niger, the situation of the Tuareg people, and it gives me hope. The first half of my life was spent in great hardship, in war, in exile, and I did not have this hope. But since then things have become much better for my people in Niger, and of course for me personally. So, I can see the proof that it is possible for things to get better, even in a situation as desperate as the one I faced earlier in my life and this means there is hope in all situations for all people.
ATHENS CALLING: And the last one question is about ATHENS PLISSKEN FESTIVAL Give Your message please for Your Festival show in Athèns.
BOMBINO: I greet the people of Athens with an open heart. I am excited to return to Greece and to share my music and the beautiful Tuareg culture with you all. It is my goal to make you all dance and to feel the joy that I feel in this music.
ATHENS CALLING: Many thanks for the interview my friend ,all the best for your carrier… and all the best for your amazing music !
BOMBINO: Thank you so much!