Dawda Jobarteh: Descendant Of Gambian Music Dynasty Who Played For Kings

Dawda Jobarteh, born in a musical bloodline in Gambia, has a rich Griot Heritage. An inherent member of a class of travelling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa, their cultural lineage is passed down to generations, inclusive of traditions, music, literature and law solely by word of mouth and has no written records. As if this alone wasn’t intriguing, Dawda plays a distinctive instrument – KORA, closely related to their folklore.

What’s Kora?

Kora is a mandinka harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck. The skin is supported by two handles that run under it. It supports a notched double free-standing bridge. It doesn’t fit into any one category of musical instruments, but rather several, and must be classified as a “double-bridge-harp-lute” and infuses 4 sounds together.

#dawdajobarteh #kora #studiolife @yfrasil 😊

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How it all started?

Dawda’s grandfather Alhaji Bai Konte was the first to take Kora to the United States in the 1970s.  Ironically, Dawda gave this tradition a twist. Dawda learnt the Calabash sitting at the feet of his Uncle Malamini. Dawda did not pick up the Kora until he moved to Denmark in his teenage years in 1999. Why you ask? Dawda being a senstitive soul was disturbed at the sight of punishment, which was was ought to be imposed while learning the Kora. Perhaps by an inclination to the Danish culture, Jobarteh is more involved in fusing Danish music with his traditional Kora. His melodies reflect glances of his grandfather’s tunes but with a lot of Danish jazz peeping. Dawda has numerous recordings which highlight synthesis of the old and the new, African, non-African and the Danish vibes.

We love it when someone is able to get you to jam along in a language you don’t even know the name of. That’s precisely what Dawda did with his track Farekama at the ZFM.

Dawda’s progeny is one thing, his energy on stage is another; incredibly flawless.

Give him a listen here.

Thanks for introducing us to Kora Music. Stay tuned to Go Cabanas and don’t forget to share this amazing find with your friends.