Sean Gaskell plays traditional music of the Mandinka people on the 21 string West African Kora. The music is traditionally played by Griots (Gree-ohs, oral/musical historians). The Kora is a very melodic and seemingly peaceful instrument, which is contrary to its musical repertoire.
Many songs tell ancient stories of war and hardship, while praising people of high political status and those who helped expand the Mande empire. While the Kora is only 300 years old, many commonly played songs can be traced back 800 years to the founding of the Mande empire. This event took place in Mali in the mid 13th century. Sean Gaskell has studied extensively under the instruction of Malamini Jobarteh and Moriba Kuyateh, both of Brikama, Gambia. He has also studied under Kane Mathis, a Kora player formerly based in Seattle who has lead groups such as “The Kora Band” and “The Sahel Band”. Sean released his first solo album “Kora Music of West Africa” in March of 2012. click here to listen to Sean.
Sean has toured nationally in the US and has played at the Kartong Festival in Gambia and at the Dombondir Festival in Senegal. “Sean’s playing and singing are right on when it comes to traditional Mandinka music. Very nice indeed!” says Roderic Knight- a retired professor of Ethnomusicology at Oberlin College Musical Conservatory- Ohio