Born in 1980 in the nomadic Tuareg encampment Tidene, just outside Agadez, Niger, Bombino came of age during much political upheaval, fleeing with his family to Algeria and teaching himself guitar by watching videos of his heroes Jimi Hendrix, Dire Straits, Ali Farka Toure, and Tinariwen. Returning to northern Niger seven years later, he took on music professionally. After honing his skills, he 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.
Released in 2011, his first record, Agadez, showcased Bombino's captivating vocals, his hypnotic, awe-inspiring guitar playing and evocative rhythms, cited as one of NPR's best discoveries of the year. 2013's Nomad, was recorded with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Bombino went to upstate New York to record his third album, Azel, with his band and producer David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors. It was on Azel that Bombino introduced a new genre he dubs 'Tuareggae' - a blend of Tuareg guitar with reggae rhythm - to the world. His most recent album, Deran, was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco. The album received rave reviews, including a full page feature in the New York Times which dubbed Bombino 'The Sultan of Shred'. Deran was nominated for a 2019 Grammy award (Best World Music Album), the first-ever nomination for an artist from Niger.