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Skirball Cultural Center

Sunset Concerts: Sona Jobarteh

Feat. DJ Stephanie Rangel

Public Programs | Music

Colorful photograph of Sona Jobarteh standing on a dirt road lined with trees. She is holding her kora over her shoulder and looking slightly away from the camera.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Enjoy dazzling vocals and intricate rhythms from Sona Jobarteh, who has revolutionized the kora, a traditional Gambian instrument, which—until now—has only been passed down from father to son.

This is a past program

This program took place on
Thursday, August 10, 2023

About the Program

West African powerhouse Sona Jobarteh has disrupted a thirteenth-century musical tradition to make a historically male ritual her own. A native of Gambia, Jobarteh's instrument of choice is the kora, a twenty-one-stringed African harp that resembles a gourd

This sublime instrument is native to the exalted Griot families, who are members of the Manding of West Africa. Unlike other Griots from her family and homeland, Jobarteh is the first professional female kora virtuoso, a pioneer within an ancient tradition previously and exclusively passed down from father to son. Jobarteh's uplifting vocals lend even greater depth to her music, which is uniquely poised between the preservation of a rich cultural heritage and an accessible modern style.

Arrive early for some pre-concert fun! While picnicking and enjoying the Skirball’s hillside courtyard, enjoy a set by DJ Stephanie Rangel, and explore a West African Marketplace featuring pop-up vendors powered by Black Women Vend.

“Some people find it surprising that I wanted to do traditional music and imply that I’m going backwards. I see what I am doing as going forwards.”—Sona Jobarteh

Watch Sona Jobarteh's music video for "Gambia."

Donor Support

Sunset Concerts at the Skirball are generously sponsored by:

The Bilger Family

The 2023 Sunset Concerts season is made possible in part by additional support from:

Media sponsor:

About Sunset Concerts

Image of outdoor stage with band playing and audience seated and listening. A large banner on the stage reads Skirball Stages

Our popular summertime music series is back! Get together with friends and family to sing and dance to an eclectic lineup of musicians in the Skirball’s picturesque hillside courtyard.

Featuring artists from Jewish, African, and Cuban diasporas, our twenty-sixth season traces music’s connective threads to the past and its ability to forge cultural bonds and inspire hope for the future.

Mother holding young daughter dancing and smiling outside during a festival

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