Sona Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh

The Kora, a west African harp is traditionally played by male griots, or hereditary musicians, and never by women. This is the woman who decided to change the rules.

She stands as she plays, demonstrating elegant and intricate musicianship; Sona is also a fine singer, with a cool, laid-back style, fronting a seasoned, four man Afro Beat Group.

The Kora is a 21 stringed African harp, and is one of the most important instruments belonging to the Manding peoples of West Africa. It can be found in Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Only those who are born into a griot family have the exclusive right to take up these instruments professionally. Sona was born into one of the five principal West African Griot families.

Her exciting stage presence conceals a wider “raison d’etre”.

Sona stands tall in the fight for Women’s rights, making it her calling to speak directly to the women in all her audiences and she staunchly upholds her Gambian homeland ….not just as a notion but in her daily activities. She has singlehandedly built up and financed a school for Gambian children from zero, to preserve her Griot heritage for later generations. Sona has trained and hired all the staff and brought in European Governmental funding to allow a new purpose built school building to appear. The wholehearted support of Women’s issues including FGM and The Gambia is essential to her. She has been very occupied as The Official Gambian representative within The World Trade Organisation and within The World Bank.

All these doings stem from her family – her Grandfather, Amadu Bansang Joberteh (after whom her school is named) was a Master Griot and remains a leading icon in Gambia’s cultural and musical history. Her cousin Toumani Diabaté is also known worldwide for his mastery of the Kora. Taught to play at the age of four by her elder brother Tunde Jegede, Sona started her musical journey at a very young age; later further developing her expertise under the tutorship of her father Sanjally Jobarteh.

During 2016/7/8 Sona has performed 150 + shows all over the World including choice festivals like Glastonbury, WOMAD UK and Australia, Hong Kong, Wurzburg Germany and Hertme Holland Africa Fests, New Orleans Jazz Festival, Richmond and Edmonton Folk Festivals and a residency at Berklee School of Music.

She has won over audiences with her captivating voice and catchy melodies bringing messages about the issues that she champions – cultural identity, gender, love and respect, whilst remaining utterly faithful to her Gambian heritage.

Supported by Amal – A Saïd Foundation Programme