Main Stage, 20/07/2019
Omara “Bombino” Moctar (official name: Goumour Almoctar) is the first-ever artist from Niger who has been nominated for a Grammy Award this year. Bombino was born in 1980 in Tidene, Niger, a Tuareg encampment about 80 kilometers northeast of Agadez. His electrifying, acoustic sound and Tamasheq lyrics that touch on his Tuareg heritage and connection with the desert have become a hit. His music is boundless. It is comprised of traditional Berber sounds, the blues, rock & roll and reggae.
The Tuareg, known amongst themselves as the Kel Tamasheq, have long been recognized as warriors, traders and travellers of the Sahara Desert - as a people of grace and nobility as well as fighters of fierce reputation. They are a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa and for centuries have fought against colonialism and the imposition of strict Islamic rule. Following the outbreak of the Tuareg Rebellion in 1990, Bombino, along with his father and grandmother, were forced to flee to neighbouring Algeria for safety. It was then that he discovered the guitar and began to teach himself how to play. 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, Ali Farka Touré, Santana or Jimmy Page 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.
In 2006, Bombino travelled to California with the band Tidawt for a tour organized by a non-profit organization. During the trip, he had the chance to record a desert blues version of the Rolling Stones classic “Hey Negrita” alongside Stones’ members Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, who were enchanted by his music. Later that year Bombino served as Angelina Jolie’s guide to the Niger desert region during a week-long visit.
Released in 2018, nominated for Grammy, his latest solo album Deran was recorded in Casablanca (at a studio owned by the King of Morocco) with just his band and his long-time manager, Eric Herman (who produced the record). The album received rave reviews from across the globe including a full page feature in the New York Times.
Bombino – lead guitar and vocal
Youba Dia – bass
Illias Mohamed – guitar, calabash and backing vocal
Corey Wilhelm – drums