Sona Jobarteh


Sona Jobarteh is one of the finest Gambian first female kora players to come from a Griot family. She was born in 1983 in London, the U.K. She is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and a producer who works with musicians from around the world. Her music career was prompted by her upbringing; she comes from a long line of hereditary musicians. She is Amadu Bansang Jobarteh’s granddaughter, the master griot. She is also cousin to the celebrated Kora maestro Toumani Diabaté.

She attended the Royal College of Music where she studied cello, piano and harpsichord in her teens. She also joined the Purcell School of Music to study composition. Learning music led her to get involved in several orchestral projects such as ‘River of Sound’ with the Irish Chamber Orchestra featuring Evelyn Glennie and other collaborative works including performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Milton Keynes City Orchestra and the Viva Chamber Orchestra.

In 2002, she traveled to Vienna to perform with the renowned jazz vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, also forming a part of his support act for Cassandra Wilson at the Barbican in London. She also featured on Damon Albarn’s Mali Music Project which was later performed for Jools Holland.

She has collaborated as a singer, guitarist and Kora player with highly respected musicians such as Cleveland Watkiss, Oumou Sangaré, Kasse Mady Diabaté, Toumani Diabaté, Sambou Suso, Juldeh Camara and Damon Albarn. She is also a member of the African Classical Music Ensemble which conducts worldwide tours under the leadership of composer Tunde Jegede.

She made a debut when she composed a soundtrack for multi-award winning film ‘Motherland’ directed by Owen Alik Shahadah where she pioneered a new genre in African cinematic music.

In 2011, she released a debut album titled ‘Fasiya’ that takes her musical expertise to a completely new level. The project draws her unique West African heritage and has already received widespread attention for its unique sound. It combines beautiful infectious melodies with strong West African rhythms.

In 2014, she won the Best Female Traditional Artist category at the Purely Gambian Entertainment Awards.

GMBanjul, Gambia


Sona Jobarteh
Profile added by Bakary Ceesay on 29 Apr 2016