Who is Tatadinding Jobarteh?

Tatadinding Jobarteh

World music fans will need no introduction to this artist, nor to the famous Jobarteh clan based in the town of Brikama, The Gambia, West Africa. Hailing from a distinguished lineage of Mandinka ‘Jalis’ (praise-singers, the keepers of traditional history & oral law). Tatadindin Jobarteh, the eldest son of Malamini Jobarteh, & grandson of legendary Keluntang Jobarteh & Alagie Bai Conteh, began to study the Kora (the West African 21-string ‘harp’ crafted from the Calabash fruit or gourd) from the age of 5 years.

Traditionally attached to Noblemen in the region, the Jali would accompany them on their travels, advising audiences on modes of behaviour based on indigenous customs, as well as lauding the Aristocrat’s great deeds. In this way, the great history of the Manding Empire, (stretching all the way from Mali to modern-day Guinea Bissau) was passed on from generation to generation.

Tata’s childhood education was divided between secular, Quranic & learning the many skills incumbent on a typical young Jali student. From a young age, Tata has performed as a solo artist, with his Salaam band, with family members and later on in his career collaborated with European musicians such as German pianist Hans Ludemann. Based in Europe since 1992, his talent has earned him a secure place on the World circuit including appearances at WOMAD festivals worldwide in the UK.

Battling a mysterious illness for over two years resulting in being amputated below the knee in one leg, Tata wasn’t deterred in fact that reignited some new energy which he pours out in his latest album “KANO” which was released domestically in The Gambia in April 2017. KANO meaning Love in the Mandinka language is also the lead single of the album. A very emotionally charged song, KANO talks about having unconditional love for others when they have any form of disability such as Blindness, Deafness, & Physical disabilities.

Tata said “The album KANO is very special to me because it contains great songs that have a lot of my life when I was very sick for a long time. During my recovery, KANO was the first song I composed and it’s about my personal identity because I was amputated below the knee so now I became physically disabled but thank God am not mentally disabled”.

Tata has often represented his country The Gambia, from Hamburg to Havana, Zurich to Zanzibar, performing and leading workshops in between many recording & session projects. Tata’s activities to date include his debut album released in 1995 ‘Salam-New Kora Music’ (WSN) followed by a series of interesting projects over the years, in particular – inclusion in ‘Ambiences du Sahara-Desert Blues(NM), Stern’s ‘Generation Boule Fall – Streets of Dakar’, The Rough Guide to the Music of Senegal & The Gambia’ & ‘Kairo – Sounds of The Gambia’ followed by a live album with Hans Ludemman – ‘Piano meets Kora’ (RISM), ‘Trio Ivoire’ (ENJA) & sessions on Senegalese artist Magou’s hit album ‘Africa-Yewul’ (WSN).

In late 2005 Tata joined André Heller’s magnificent Circus Afrika! Afrika! production, touring throughout Europe & selling to date in excess of 2.5 million tickets. As the most popular musical acts from a cast of 150, he was one of 3 artists selected for the successful German feature film ’Back To Africa’ based on the Circus which launched in 2008. After that, Tata also featured in a short ‘sabbatical’ from the Circus to take part in the Klangwelten Festival of World Music on tour in Germany.

His follow-up album ‘Kanaké’, (‘Don’t Do It’ in the Mandinka language as well as the name of a German Anti-racism Movement) was recorded in The Gambia & UK. It highlights a new level of personal & spiritual development of Tata’s personal journey, against a rich cultural & Islamic backdrop. Collaborating with musicians from across the spectrum, including Fulani ‘Riti’ player & 2008 BBC3 World Music Award winner Juldeh Camara, this 12 track project with its haunting melodies & fusion of Classical African, Middle Eastern & Western instrumentation demonstrates a new level of maturity that will surprise existing fans, & Inshallah, win over many new ones.

The campaign behind the KANO album rejuvenated Tata’s publicity and 2019 saw more grassroots and diaspora support with exposure to new music fans. As promised, Tata released his latest studio album on 7th December at Pencha Mii Hall in The Gambia to a sold crowd of two thousand people. December 28th 2019 saw Tata make his debut appearance at The Open Mic Festival at the Independence Stadium, The Gambia’s most revered festival.

Additional Information from Tata Facebook Page

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Sainey M.K. Marenah
Mr. Sainey M.K. Marenah is a Prominent Gambian journalist, founding editor The Alkamba Times and formerly head of communications at the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and Communications and PR Consultant for The Gambia Pilot Program, under Gamworks. Mr. Marenah served as the Social media Strategist and Editor at Gambia Radio and Television Services. He is also the Banjul Correspondent for Voice of America Radio. Sainey is a human rights and developmental journalist who has carved a strong niche particularly in new media environments in the Gambian media industry. Mr. Marenah began his career as a junior reporter with the Point Newspaper in the Gambia in 2008 and rose through the ranks to become Chief correspondent before moving to The Standard Newspaper also in Banjul as Editorial Assistant and head of News. He is a household name in the Gambia’s media industry having covered some of the most important stories in the former and current government. These include the high profile treason cases including the Trial of Former military chiefs in Banjul in 2009 to 2012. Following his arrest and imprisonment by the former regime of President, Yahya Jammeh in 2014, Marenah moved to Dakar Senegal where he continues to practice Journalism freelancing for various local and international Media organization’s including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, VOA, and ZDF TV in Germany among others. He is the co-Founder of the Banjul Based Media Center for Research and Development; an institution specialized in research and development undertakings. As a journalist and Communication Expert, focused on supporting the Gambia's transitional process, Mr Marenah continues to play a pivotal role in shaping a viable media and communications platform that engages necessary tools and action to increase civic participation and awareness of the needs of transitional governance to strengthen the current move towards democratization. Mr. Marenah has traveled extensively as a professional journalist in both Europe, Africa and United States and attended several local and international media trainings.


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