Article Contributed by CK Communicati… | Published on Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Internationally renowned as the world’s first female professional Kora virtuoso, Sona Jobarteh returns to North America this winter and spring for a tour that will take her from coast-to-coast.  Blues legend Taj Mahal shares the bill with her for several stops in February and March.  For tickets and information about the tour, visit

Born into a Griot family from the Gambia, a tradition that dates back seven centuries, Sona is a living archive of the Gambian people. Her music is uniquely poised between the preservation of her rich cultural heritage and an accessible, modern style that relates to the current era and to audiences from all over the world. While fronting her electric Afropop band, she sings about cultural identity, gender, love, and respect.

Sona generally sings and records in Mandinka, a traditional language spoken by one of Gambia’ many ethnic groups, rather than in English, which would be expected to garner more commercial success. Yet her debut album in 2011 was a surprise hit both internationally and in Gambia. In a New York Times profile, she said “It makes Africans feel something, to see that someone is being respected to sing in their own language, dress in their own clothes, play their own music,” she said. “That is a message not just for Gambians — it’s for the whole African continent.”

Sona’s most recent release Badinyaa Kumoo is a musical manifesto expressing her vision of empowering women, children, artists, and African societies to effect positive change. Showcasing her skills as an innovative composer and multi-instrumentalist, the album also includes guest appearances by renowned World Music artists such as the Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, Malian kora master Ballaké Sissoko, and American saxophonist Kirk Whalum. The album has well over 6 million streams on Spotify and over 23 million views on YouTube, and led to a feature about Sona on CBS’ 60 Minutes.

At the heart of Sona’s success as an artist is her dedication to humanitarian activism in the areas of social development and educational reform on the continent of Africa. Badinyaa Kummo, named one of the “10 Best Album of the Year” by Songlines Magazine, was released more than a decade after her debut solo recording.  During that time she was bringing her broader mission, that aligns with her role of a griot, to reality.

In 2015, she founded The Gambia Academy, the first institution in the country to educate young Africans in their culture, traditions, and history seamlessly alongside their everyday academic education. Sona says “Education is a vital foundation block in changing mind-sets, which in turn determines the degree of success of a nation in its journey towards self-determination, self-dependence, self-governance, and economic self-sustainability."

Since founding The Gambia Academy, Sona has become a highly sought after speaker on education reform and advocate for replacing the existing Euro-centric "replacing the existing Euro-centric education framework, which historically has marginalized and disempowered young Africans, with curriculum and teaching methods that develop engagement, agency, critical thinking, self-determination, tenacity and excellence within students.

She has lectured and held university residencies in Africa and across the United States and Europe. In 2023,  Sona received an honorary doctorate from the Berklee School of Music, joining an elite list of other notable honorees, including Aretha Franklin, Justin Timberlake, Sting, and Herbie Hancock


2024 Winter/Spring North American Tour


February 22  Santa Barbara, CA with Taj Mahal  

UC Santa Barbara Campbell Hall  


February 23 Los Angeles, CA with Taj Mahal  

Cal State, Los Angeles Luckman Fine Arts Center  


February 24  San Luis Obispo CA with Taj Mahal  

Performing Arts Center  


February 25 Palm Springs, CA with Taj Mahal  

Palm Springs International Jazz Festival  


February 26 Mesa, AZ with Taj Mahal  

Ikeda Theatre, Mesa Arts Center    


February 27  Tucson, AZ with Taj Mahal  

Fox Tucson Theatre  


February 28 Albuquerque, NM  

The Dirty Bourbon Dance Hall and Saloon  


March 1 Santa Fe, NM with Taj Mahal  

Lensic Theatre  


March 2  Colorado Springs, CO with Taj Mahal  

Pikes Peak Center  


March 3 Denver, CO with Taj Mahal  

Paramount Theatre   


March 5 Ridgefield, CT with Taj Mahal  

Ridgefield Playhouse  


March 6 Portsmouth, NH with Taj Mahal  

The Music Hall  


March  7 Albany, NY with Taj Mahal  

The Hart Theatre at The Egg  


March 8 Montreal, QC   

Le National  


March 9 Toronto, ON with Taj Mahal  

Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory of Music  


March 10 Ottawa, ON with Taj Mahal  

National Arts Centre  


March 30 Boston MA  

Somerville Theatre  


April 3 New York, NY  

Sony Hall  


April 4 New Haven, CT  

International Festival of Arts & Ideas  


April 5 Wilmington DE  

Arden Gild Hall  


April 7 Bethesda, MD  

The Music Center at Strathmore  


April 9 Northampton, MA  

BOMBYX Center for Arts and Equity  


April 11 Kennett Square, PA  

Longwood Gardens Ballroom  


April 13 Norlina, NC  

Seven Springs Farm and Vineyard  


April 17 Kalispell, MT  

Wachholz College Center  


April 20 Hamilton, MT
Bitterroot Performing Arts