Taj Mahal & Sona Jobarteh

Taj Mahal & Sona Jobarteh

Taj Mahal singing with head held upwards and Sona Jobarteh holding an instrument in one arm and other arm in air.

Photos: Taj Mahal & Sona Jobarteh at The Luckman | Feb 23, 2024

Taj Mahal is a towering musical figure — a legend who transcended the blues not by leaving them behind, but by revealing their magnificent scope to the world. Quantifying the 77-year-old’s significance is impossible, but people try anyway. A 2017 Grammy win for TajMo, Taj’s collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Association, and other honors punctuate his résumé. Taj appreciates the accolades, but his motivation lies elsewhere. “I just want to be able to make the music that I’m hearing come to me — and that’s what I did,” Taj says. “When I say, ‘I did,’ I’m not coming from the ego. The music comes from somewhere. You’re just the conduit it comes through. You’re there to receive the gift.”

“The blues is bigger than most people think,” Taj Mahal says. “You could hear Mozart play the blues. It might be more like a lament. It might be more melancholy. But I’m going to tell you: the blues is in there.”

Sona Jobarteh is the first professional female Kora virtuoso to come from any of the West African dynasties. Her lineage carries a formidable reputation of renowned Kora masters — most notable are her grandfather Amu Bansang Jobarteh and her cousin, the legendary Toumani Diabate. Sona is reputed for her skill as an instrumentalist, distinctive voice, infectious melodies and her grace onstage, and she has rapidly achieved international success as a top class. 

Sona has performed on some of the largest stages across the globe such as the Hollywood Bowl, Australia’s WOMAD, and Symphony Space NYC, among many others. As a vocalist, Sona has been featured in award-winning films Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and The First Grader– which later won “Discovery of the Year” prize at Hollywood World Soundtrack Awards. 

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