Malam Barka is a teacher, a musician, a poet, and an inspiring force to many in his West African homeland of Niger. He has been performing music professionally on his gurumi, a two-stringed instrument with a calabash shell body and iguana skin head, for over 20 years. Hailing from the Toubou community of Tesker, in southeastern Niger, he is now based in Niamey. A prolific songwriter with over 250 compositions to his credit, Malam Barka has created a whole repertoire and musical style that resonates profoundly with many modern Nigeriens who love their traditional music but also want songs that address pressing issues of contemporary life and transcend ethnic boundaries. It is as a result of this deep connection that so many Nigeriens feel with his songs that he has traveled broadly internationally as a musical ambassador of his Sahelian homeland. He has performed throughout West Africa in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, and Chad, but also in such countries as China, Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria, France, Germany, Spain, and Holland.
In 2002, he traveled to the shores of Lake Chad in the far southeastern corner of Niger to apprentice himself to Boukar Tar, an old master of the biram, a five-stringed boat-shaped harp instrument of the Boudouma ethnic group. Malam Barka's teacher on the biram was possibly the only living exponent of this beautiful and sacred instrument before Malam Barka began his mission to spread awareness of the biram both in Niger and abroad. In addition to his instrumental work on the gurumi and the biram, Malam Barka is a singer with a captivating delivery and penetrating lyrical style that covers a wide spectrum of human experience from love and the struggles of daily life to broad sociopolitical and philosophical issues.
Guidan Haya is the first recording of Nigerien gurumi master Malam Maman Barka to be released outside of Niger. It includes a number of the songs that have made Malam Barka a much beloved songwriter and performer in Niger as well as his newest compositions. These intimate field recordings were made on location in Niamey, Niger and feature the powerful percussion of Oumarou Adamou on the douma and kalongu accompanying the inimitable voice and gurumi of Malam Barka.