Nonesuch Records will release 'Nomad', from the Tuareg guitarist, singer, and songwriter Omara “Bombino” Moctar, on April 2.
At the invitation of The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the Niger-born artist and his band traveled to Nashville for the recording, helmed by Auerbach at his studio, Easy Eye Sound.
A pre-order of Nomad is available now at nonesuch.com and includes an instant download of the album track “Azamane Tiliade.”
Before 2009, Bombino was little known outside Saharan Africa, where his career consisted of regionally available cassettes and roles in local bands. In the last few years, he has begun to find a following abroad. He sold out venues across the U.S. and the UK, in 2011, and has garnered the praise of outlets ranging from Pitchfork to NPR’s Fresh Air, whose critic Milo Miles called Bombino “a young performer with the charisma and probing imagination to become the first Tuareg star.” Auerbach, a Producer of the Year nominee in the upcoming GRAMMY Awards, became a fan after a friend saw him perform and thought Auerbach might appreciate his unique style of desert blues.
Born and raised in Niger, in and around the northern city of Agadez, Bombino is a member of the Tuareg Ifoghas tribe, a nomadic people descended from the Berbers of North Africa. The Tuareg people have fought the Niger government to secure their rights on numerous occasions, causing Bombino and his family to flee several times. During one such exile, relatives visiting from the front lines of the rebellion left behind a guitar, and Bombino began teaching himself to play it. He eventually studied with the renowned Tuareg guitarist Haja Bebe, who asked him to join his band, where he acquired the nickname Bombino—a variation on the Italian word for “little child.”
While living in Algeria and Libya in his teen years, Bombino’s friends played him videos of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler, among others, which they watched over and over in an effort to master their licks. Bombino worked regularly as a musician and also as a herder in the desert near Tripoli, spending many hours alone watching the animals and practicing his guitar. Eventually, Bombino returned to Niger, where he continued to play with a number of local bands. As his legend grew, a Spanish documentary film crew helped Bombino record his first album, Group Bombino’s Guitars from Agadez Vol. 2, which became a local radio hit.