Sona Jobarteh is a Malian kora master, descended from a long line of kora players and griots. From her website:
Sona Jobarteh is the first female Kora virtuoso from the prestigious West African Jobarteh Griot family, coming from a long line of hereditary musicians. She is also a singer, producer, film composer and multi-instrumentalist. She is the granddaughter of the master Griot Amadu Bansang Jobarteh and cousin to the celebrated Kora maestro Toumani Diabaté. She has recently completed her new, eagerly awaited album "Fasiya".My father introduced me to Sona's music in a most interesting way. First, he showed me her cousin Diabaté's version of a traditional Malian love song, "Jarabi". I've posted it on here before, but here's a quick refresher (fast forward to about a minute in):
My father asked what impression I got from this performance. I told him I noticed how warm and playful Diabaté's version is. Simply put, I envisioned a young man who's happily in love and feels like he's at the top of the world.
A few days later, my father sent me Sona's version and asked me what I saw.
Sona's voice is so haunting, and so poignant I got a completely different impression. I began to wonder if "Jarabi" was the name of a some folkloric woman who brought about the devastation of a family or an entire clan. There's a soft, almost wailing quality to Sona's voice here which, every time I listen to it, stays with me for days.
Even now, I have to be sitting down and in a right state of mind to watch the whole performance. I fully intend to purchase her album and hope to the gods she produces many, many more.