December 7, 2022
Culture

Musician Sona Jobarteh on becoming the world’s first female kora player

musician-sona jobarteh-on-becoming-the-world’s-first-female-kora-player

/ Shows / Encore! Issued on: 24/11/2022 – 17:51Modified: 24/11/2022 – 17:52

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ENCORE! © FRANCE 24 British Gambian artist Sona Jobarteh plays the kora, a string instrument that has been the preserve of men since the 13th century, passed down from father to son in a special set of families in West Africa for hundreds of years. That was until she decided to change things. After picking up the kora at the tender age of three, Sona has been playing for audiences across Europe, Africa and the United States since her 2011 album “Fasiya”. She gained international success following her 2015 song “Gambia”, which was released to celebrate Gambian independence. It became country’s unofficial national anthem with 24 million views on YouTube. The musician is in Paris to perform in the Afrocolor Festival.

She speaks to Eve Jackson about becoming accepted as a female kora player, the importance of singing in the language of Mandinka on her new album “Badinyaa Kumoo” and creating the template for a new African education system at her school, the Gambia Academy.

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