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Biography Dembo Jobarteh
Dembo Jobarteh is a griot from Niani Kayai, The Gambia. In the past African griots were court musicians, singing praise of their leaders and thereby telling the history of the region.
Dembo was brought up in the traditional griot way. He worked in the groundnut and rice paddies, studying kora and drums in his spare time. At the age of 18 Dembo was a professional koraplayer and singer. He went to Dakar, Senegal and played in restaurants and tourist markets. After two years he came back to The Gambia. Here he founded the Gambian Griot School of Music and Dance.
Dembo Jobarteh is a nephew of Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, the famous kora-player and teacher of world music specialist Lucy Duran. Amadu Bansang became well known for his album Tabara. Another famous family member is Malamini Jobarteh, father of Tata Dindin.
In 2003 Dembo Jobarteh recorded Listen All. The CD contains eleven songs. Four are traditionals from The Gambia, the others were written by Dembo. It's the first recording on which he is accompanied by female singers. Sirra Suso, Fatoumata Suso, Majo Sakiliba and Jessy Jobarteh are all in their twenties and well known in The Gambia.
Over the past few years Dembo Jobarteh has made three albums. He also recorded with the Dancehall Masters, one of The Gambia's most popular groups.
Listen All is his first CD that is released worldwide through the Internet.
Gambia Banko was released in 2005. It is dedicated to the inhabitants and visitors of The Gambia. The cd offers a wide variety of traditional songs and own compositions. Some songs are in English, others in Mandinka. There are tracks with djembe and mandinka drums, while others feature only Dembo and his kora.
Dembo hopes that his cd's will get him in touch with music lovers and musicians from around the world. "I'd like to live in the U.S.A. for a while like Foday Musa Suso" he says. "To hear Cajun in Louisiana, the Blues in the deep south and Hip Hop in Chicago. To go to Cuba and beat the drums to a hot Salsa. To record with other artists, like Youssou N'dour. To bring my music to all those people outside my country. That's why I named my first international cd Listen All. Gambia Banko is a tribute to my country and its people. Because no matter where one travels, a person should always remember his roots."