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Bombino: 2018

Bombino (photo by Brian Gallagher/WFUV)

Bombino (photo by Brian Gallagher/WFUV)

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If anyone deeply understands the desperate plight of refugees — and why people are forced to leave their homelands — it's Omara Moctar, the brilliant Tuareg guitarist who records as Bombino. Born in Niger, Moctar and his family fled to Algeria when he was a child, due to drought and political unrest in his own country. While in exile, he first learned the instrument that became his catalyst, artistically and otherwise, and eventually found a mentor in Haja Bebe, the Niger guitarist and Tuareg activist, who dubbed his youthful protégé "Bombino" or "little child."

The rich spirit of desert blues infuses Bombino's music; it's passionate, heartfelt, and a subversive form of political protest too. Vaulted into the spotlight by a series of serendipitous events, including director Ron Wyman's 2010 documentary "Agadez, The Music and The Rebellion," and a collaboration with members of the Rolling Stones on a cover of "Hey Negrita," Bombino was eventually signed by Nonesuch Records, releasing his second album, the Dan Auerbach-produced Nomad, in 2013. Bombino's next album, 2015's Azel, came out via the Partisan label.

On his most recent album Deran, recorded in Morocco, Bombino again sings in Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg people. His songs are testaments to the resolve and resilience of the persecuted and his everlasting hope for peace and compassion. It was an honor to have this virtuosic guitarist and storyteller visit Studio A for a very special session.

[Recorded: 5/10/18]

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