The Brighton Kora Player - Kora Player

The Brighton Kora Player and singer specialises in the West African kora, and performs, makes and repairs the instruments.

The harmonic sounds of the kora have been adapted by not only Gambians but Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania. 

Traditionally the instruments are played by griots and his lineage is one that can be traced back through several generations and whose forefathers had senior roles in the lives of the kings of West Africa often travelling with them as closest advisors on all matters from personal to political.  Griots would accompany kings to battle and act as close aides and advisors.  They entertained and maintained the oral historical traditions of their culture passed from father to son.

The Brighton Kora Player learnt the kora from the age of 7 to 8 from his father and is an accomplished musician who is also one of a diminishing few voices that carry the traditional songs of his forefathers passed on from father to son for hundreds of years.

These songs often carry messages of wisdom, joy and celebration and awareness.  From the great legend Alfayaya whose legacy was to help so many people that when he died it was said that it was like losing a huge tree ‘Bantamba’ whose branches supported many lives and whose passing could never be replaced.

Another, Miniamba, the story of the python who helped a young woman give birth in the bush but forced her to promise on pain of death that she would not share her experience anyone,  But she did! And the snake killed her and it is said that a python’s skeleton rattles even in death if a pregnant woman approaches and a live python will attack a pregnant woman. Songs of celebration for the horse were also sung, Kelafa Bah about the horses back from battle and happy that now the battle was over they would not die!  Binta bolodagnah Massanasissay manyelacombola kebaleh comba about a woman in the village - the day his wife coming is the day he dies - it doesn’t matter how good nice rich beautiful one day you will go…beautiful wife is crying husband is in ground.

The Brighton Kora Player is one of only a few remaining kora players who still makes his own instrument.  He learnt to make the kora as a child in Gambia and still makes many instruments today.

He is available for events. His musical versatility enable him to perform according to your wishes. He will play you traditional Gambian music and translate it for you or he will play up beat New Orleans style jazz and is also playing electronic experimental Western improvisational kora beats using looping and background beats. 

The Kora

The kora is a 21 stringed instrument made from a gourd similar in shape to a large pumpkin. Half the gourd is covered in a skin of hide that has been tanned in a specific way.  There are two handles and the strings are plucked using only the thumb and forefinger. The left hand maintains a rhythm whilst the right hand improvises thus often giving the impression that there are two musicians playing instead of one.

The instrument originates from Brufut in Gambia in the 18th century yet is part of a long line of instruments that have been adapted and developed over the centuries starting with the lute played by the minstrels of Pharos in ancient Egypt.


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