Black Atlantic: Sona Jobarteh (The Gambia/UK)
For the majority of its time in West African musical history, the kora has been the exclusive purview of men. All of that changed with London-born Sona Jobarteh, a member of a highly respected griot family from The Gambia (and second cousin to Toumani Diabaté), who proved virtuosic in her proficiency with this sacrosanct lute-bridge-harp. Breaking the cycle while still honoring the legacy makes Jobarteh simultaneously revolutionary and traditionalist. Beyond the storytelling nature of her performances, her music has also appeared in more modern contexts, including the 2016 Roots mini-series. At Motorco Music Hall, Jobarteh kicks off Duke Performances' third Black Atlantic festival, displaying her dexterity on her hallowed and complex instrument, and showing her command of contemporary Afropop sensibilities alongside more customary ones.