Sona Jobarteh


Sona began learning the kora at the young age of four from her brother Tunde Jegede. By the age of six, she also started to learn the cello, piano and harp. She gave her first performance on the Kora alongside her brother at London’s Jazz Café at the age of five, and her first solo cello recital at the age of eleven at the prestigious South Bank Purcell Room in London. She attended the Royal College of Music and the Purcell School in the UK where she furthered her studies in western classical music. Sona was established as a permanent member of her brother’s internationally acclaimed ‘ACM Ensemble’, with whom she toured the world for many years, having the opportunity to work alongside internationally acclaimed artists such as Oumou Sangaré, Toumani Diabaté and The BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In her twenties Sona started to find a balance for her diverse knowledge of two very different traditions – that of Manding and Western classical music. The quality of her voice brought her to the attention of the prolific Hollywood film composer Alex Heffes in 2011 who asked her to feature as solo vocalist in the soundtrack to the film 'The First Grader'. The piece featuring Sona won the “Discovery of the Year Prize” at the Hollywood World Soundtrack Awards in 2012. This success led to Sona being asked by director Justin Chadwick to record once again as a solo vocalist for the soundtrack to his blockbuster Hollywood movie 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' in 2014.

In 2011 Sona released her critically acclaimed first solo album entitled “Fasiya”. This album was a landmark not only in her personal musical journey, but in the evolving tradition that she has been born into. Following the release of Fasiya, Sona turned her attention to piecing together and developing a London-based band that would be able render her music on the live stage. This took her many years to accomplish, but Sona has now achieved the formation of a highly accomplished group who capture the energy, feeling and refinement her music demands. Sona has turned her attention to developing traditional music education in the Gambia. In 2014 she started running 6-week project in her home village of Kembujeh in The Gambia, specialising in manding music and history for children between the ages of 8 and 18.


Track artwork
Oliver Barnett
Sona Jobarteh - Saya
GMBanjul, Gambia


Samuel Codjoe

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