US college confers honorary doctorate on Gambian kora star


Gambian musician and educator Sona Jobarteh was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College, US of Music last Wednesday. The ceremony was held at the Berklee Performance Centre in Boston.

Sona Jobarteh was officially hooded by the president of Berklee, Dr Erica Muhl. Dr Muhl delivered a powerful speech honouring Dr Jobarteh’s work and career, saying “Sona embodies our best aspirations as a community. Consummate artistry, innovative composition, stellar production, original scholarship, humanitarian activism, mastery and expansion of great musical traditions. Not to mention a ground-breaking, world changing career.”

In her acceptance speech, Jobarteh thanked Berklee for the honour, and spoke about the importance of music education. She said, “Music is a powerful tool for change, and it can be used to unite people and inspire them to make a difference in the world.”


Jobarteh is an inspiration to musicians and women all over the world. She is a role model for young people who want to break down barriers and achieve their dreams.

About Sona Jobarteh

Sona Jobarteh is a trendsetter as she is the first woman in her family to learn the kora, and she has been breaking down barriers ever since. She is the granddaughter of Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, the in-court griot of the famed chief, Sanjally Bojang of Brikama. Sona began playing the kora at the age of four, and she quickly became a skilled musician. She toured with her uncle, kora master Dembo Conteh, and released her first album, Djeliya, in 1999.

Jobarteh has since released five more albums, and she has toured all over the world. She has also been a vocal advocate for women’s rights and education in Africa. Jobarteh is a recipient of numerous awards, including the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for Best Female Artist in 2002. She is also a Goodwill Ambassador for Unesco.