Artist Profiles: Amadu Bansang Jobarteh

Amadu Bansang Jobarteh

Amadu Bansang Jobarteh (kora, voice) was a jali: an oral historian and hereditary praise singer from among the Mandinka people of Gambia, West Africa. Amadu’s family background clearly illustrates the hereditary nature of jalis in West African society. In the late 1800s, and at the request of a Gambian chief, Amadu’s father Jali Fili Jobarteh emigrated from Mali and settled with his family in the town of Bansang. Although the father played koni, his children learned the kora, which was the favored instrument in that area of Gambia.

Amadu first learned kora from his elder brother Bala, whose son Sidiki Diabate is one of the most accomplished jalis in all of Mali. Sidiki’s son, Toumani Diabate, is well known in the West, and has numerous recordings to his credit. Amadu Bansang Jobarteh embodied the wisdom and maturity of a grand master. He performed around the world and taught in Europe and the United States.

Amadu Jobarteh passed away in April of 2001.

Discography:

Master of the Kora (Eavadisc, 1978)
Tabara (Music of the World, 1994)
Gambia for the People (The Orchard, 2001)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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