Sona Jobarteh
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Sona Jobarteh
African Kora Virtuoso

Sona Jobarteh

JUN 11–23 | 37th San Francisco Jazz Festival

Jun 13
Joe Henderson Lab

“A griot for a new generation of West Africans” (BBC Radio), London-born kora virtuoso Sona Jobarteh is a pioneer of the 21-string African lute. She is the first female kora master to have emerged from an established family of West African griots, bucking a long-held hereditary tradition that restricted instruction on the instrument to males only.

Starting as a prodigy, Jobarteh began studies with her brother, kora great Tunde Jegede, at age four and gave her first public performance on the instrument at London’s Jazz Café at five. She deeply immersed herself in western classical music studies at London’s Royal College of Music, touring the world with her brother’s acclaimed ACM Ensemble as a teen and sharing the stage with Toumani Diabaté, Oumou Sangaré, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Jobarteh made deeper connections with her Gambian heritage under the tutelage of her father Sanjally Jobarteh, and began developing her own identity as a solo artist. She composed the score to the 2010 documentary The Motherland, and has done extensive work for film, lending her soaring soprano to the soundtracks of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, The First Grader, and The History Channel’s 2016 miniseries Roots. Her beguiling debut solo recording, Fasiya, showcases her skills as vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, described by Afropop Worldwide as “full of grace, warmth, and passion.”

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As a teen she toured the world with her brother’s acclaimed ACM Ensemble, sharing the stage with Toumani Diabaté, Oumou Sangaré, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Africa’s first female griot kora virtuoso, and also a fine singer and composer, blending traditional music, blues and Afropop to impressive effect.

The Guardian

Africa’s first female griot kora virtuoso, and also a fine singer and composer, blending traditional music, blues and Afropop to impressive effect.

The Guardian

Watch & Listen

Sona Jobarteh

Gambia

Sona Jobarteh

Saya

Sona Jobarteh

Gambia

Sona Jobarteh

Saya