Tuesday, March 22, 7:30 p.m. Weis Center Auditorium
Sona Jobarteh preserves her musical past while innovating to support a more humanitarian future. The spirit of her musical work stands on the mighty shoulders of the West African Griot tradition; she is a living archive of the Gambian people. With one ear on the family's historic reputation, one on the all-important future legacy and her heart in both places, she is preparing a place today for the next generation. Her singing and kora playing while fronting her band spring directly from this tradition. The extent of her recognition is evidenced by more than 17 million watchers on YouTube and considerable numbers on other digital platforms. All this despite singing in her native languages and keeping to her own path within the music industry.
Jobarteh's dedication to spreading powerful humanitarian messages through her songs and her stage performances makes her much more than a musician; she is active in social change and leads by her own example. She singlehandedly set up The Gambia Academy, a pioneering institution dedicated to achieving educational reform across the continent of Africa. This academy is the first of its kind to deliver a mainstream academic curriculum at a high level, while also bringing front and center the culture, traditions and history that belong to its students into their everyday education. These efforts have led to invitations for Jobarteh to deliver speeches at high-profile events around the world, including summits for the U.N., the World Trade Organization and UNICEF.