Tom Keener – Guest Contributor
Jan 3 2017
Music of the West African Kora



Central Standard Time



Allen Public Library
300 N. Allen Dr.
Allen, Texas 75013

Sean Gaskell will give a performance and educational demonstration on the Kora, a 21-stringed harp from West Africa, at 7:30 pm Friday, January 6, at the Allen Public Library.  Featuring traditional songs that are the heart and soul of the Koras musical repertoire, he will also perform his own personal compositions.


Native to the Mande peoples who live within the countries of Gambia, Senegal, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea Bissau, Kora music is traditionally played by oral and musical historians known as Griots (Gree-ohs). The Kora is a melodic and seemingly peaceful instrument, which is somewhat contrary to its musical repertoire. Many songs tell ancient stories of war and hardship, while others praise people of high political status and those who helped expand the Mande Empire. While the Kora is only 300 years old, some songs commonly played on the instrument can be traced back 800 years to the Mande empire’s founding. Gaskell has studied extensively under the instruction of Malamini Jobarteh and Moriba Kuyateh of Brikama, The Gambia, and Kane Mathis of Brooklyn, NY. Gaskell has been featured at numerous festivals in the US, Gambia, and Senegal.

Tom Surowicz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune declared, “Need more proof that music is the greatest international language? Listen to how eloquently Sean Gaskell, a young fella from the grunge and coffee mecca of Seattle, plays the 21-string West African Kora, a gourd-bottomed harp that delivers both acres of melody and gently rippling rhythms.”

 Sean has compiled a CD, Somanda, which will be available at the concert.

Sponsored by the Allen Public Library, this is a free concert.  The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr.  Call 214-509-4911.