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Bombino, the First Nigerien Artist to Be Nominated For a Grammy

The electrifying musician talks to OkayAfrica about wielding the Tuareg weapon of peace: a guitar.

Omara "Bombino" Moctar, 38, is the Nigerien guitarist who has recently been nominated for a grammy.

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. What is just as unique as the above is his story.

His people, the Tuareg, descendants of the Berbers of North Africa have long been nomads, traders and warriors within the Sahara Desert.

In his early years, Bombino grew up in an encampment in Agadez with his seventeen brothers and sisters and rebelliously refused to go to school. He would attend a French-Arabic school until the age of nine then leave and be taken in by his grandmother, who would instill in him Tuareg moral code.

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Photo: AIDA MULUNEH.

Seun Kuti, Bombino, Fatoumata Diawara, Soweto Gospel Choir & More Earn 2019 Grammy Nominations

And, yes, they're still calling it "world" music.

The 2019 Grammy nominations have been announced, and some of our African favorite artists have made the cut—though they've, once, again, mostly been constrained to the vague and reductive category of "world" music.

This year, four out of the five nominees for the category are of African descent, including Seun Kuti and his band Egypt 80 for Black Times, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara for her album Fento, Niger-born Tuareg musician Bombino for the album Deran, and the Soweto Choir, who performed at OkayAfrica and Global Citizen's Next 100 Summit in Johannesburg just last week, earned a nomination for their album Freedom.

We're rooting for all of these musicians, but it's be nice if they weren't all lumped into one category, considering they all have very different sounds. We also hoped that with the massive cultural impact of afrobeats, that one of the genre's big names would have made the cut. It's clear that the Grammys remain behind on fully recognizing the talent coming from the continent.

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Bombino. Photo: Richard Dumas / Partisan Records.

Bombino "Gets Closer to Africa" In His New Tuareg Blues Album 'Deran'

Tuareg legend Omara "Bombino" Moctar returned to Northern Africa to record his fifth proper album.

The exciting new full-length from Bombino serves as a career retrospective of sorts, touching on the different styles and various iterations of this renowned musician born in Niger. On Deran, the desert blues, traditional folk, and "Tuareggae" music styles Bombino has experimented with over the last decade come together in an amalgam of perfect unity.

Since his collaboration with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and subsequent signing to Nonesuch, Bombino has been lauded as one of the world's greatest living blues guitarists. Producers like Auerbach and, most recently, Dirty Projectors' Dave Longstreth have collaborated with Bombino in an attempt to capture the raging spectacle of his live show. Most often they came up short. But despite what those American recording studios couldn't reproduce, they excelled in inspiring Bombino to realize the limitless possibilities of his music.

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The Best Songs of 2016

The songs we had on repeat this year, from Cameroonian bangers to hits from Solange, Wizkid, and Drake.

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