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Sona Maya Jobarteh

Sona Maya Jobarteh is a kora player, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from the Gambia and the UK. She was born in 1983 into one of the five principal Kora-playing Griot families from West Africa. She is renowned for being the first female kora player from the Jobarteh family. She is the granddaughter of the Master Griot of his generation, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, and cousin of the well-known, celebrated Kora player Toumani Diabate, and sister of the renowned Diaspora Kora player Tunde Jegede.


Sona Maya Jobarteh is a member of one of the five principal Kora-playing (Griot) families from West Africa. She is the granddaughter of the Master Griot of his generation, Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, and cousin of the well-known, celebrated Kora player Toumani Diabate. She has studied the Kora since the age of three, and gave her first performance at London’s Jazz Café when she was four.

Sona attended the Royal College of Music where she studied cello, piano and harpsichord, and soon after went onto the Purcell School of Music to study composition. During this time she was involved in working on several orchestral projects including the ‘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 Orchesrtra and the Viva Chamber Orchestra.

In 2002 Sona travelled 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.

As a performing musician Sona has collaborated with musicians from around the world, and is a regular member of the African Classical Music Ensemble which has toured England, Ireland, Africa and parts of the Caribbean. She has contributed to the well-established composer/musician Tunde Jegede’s albums Malian Royal Court Music and Lamentations, for which she composed two pieces, one of which also featured on the album Trans Planet Vol. 5 which was released on Triloka records, Virgin in the states. Sona also works with the distinguished spoken word artist HKB FiNN as an instrumentalist, co-writer, singer and producer.

Having completed her degree at SOAS University, Sona now divides her time as a performer and teacher of the Kora, sharing its repertoire and history with a new generation of people interested in learning about this most exquisite instrument. Sona has recently completed her debut album entitled 'Afro Acoustic Soul', which expresses and explores the many facets of her unique musical heritage. She is currently working on the music for the forthcoming film ‘Motherland’ (to be screened in 2009), directed by the renowned, film-maker Owen 'Alik Shahadah, who is creator of the multi award-winning ‘500 Years Later’.


  • Producer and Guest artist on "Spoken Herbs" - (2006)
  • Music of the Diaspora (500 Years Later Soundtrack) - Souljazzfunk (2006)
  • Guest Artists on "Nu Beginin'" (Ty2) - (2007)
  • Producer and guest artist on "Light in the Shade of Darkenss" (HKB FiNN) - (2008)
  • "Afro Acoustic Soul" - Sona Soul Records (2008)

Film Credits

  • 500 Years Later (Kora player who opened the film)
  • The Idea (actress)
  • Motherland (film)' (Composer)

External links

  • Sona Maya Jobarteh Official Website
  • The West African Guild - Kora Teachers Leading website in West African music, musicians, products and services.
  • Sona Maya Jobarteh at the Internet Movie Database

Please note that BHM takes no credit for any images used on this page, all images were obtained via the internet. If you would like to be credited for any images please contact us.



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