Hear music of the West African kora at A.K. Smiley Public Library program – San Bernardino Sun

Redlands’ A.K. Smiley Public Library will present Sean Gaskell in a program of music on the West African kora 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Contemporary Club.

The kora is a 21-stringed harp from West Africa, and Gaskell’s program will feature traditional songs from the instrument’s repertoire, according to a news release.

The program is free.

Gaskell first heard a live performance on the kora in 2006, according to his website. That performance, by Kane Mathis who become Gaskell’s first kora teacher, inspired him to immerse himself , in music of the kora and travel to its homeland in West Africa.

The kora is traditionally played by oral historians known as griots, and many songs tell stories of war, hardship, love and loss while presenting the history of Mande society, in which the instrument originated.

Gaskell has visited Brikama in Gambia where he had the opportunity to study the kora with Moriba Kuyateh and his father, the late Malamini Jobarteh, according to his website.

Gaskell, who is based in North Carolina, has presented programs at more than 350 libraries and at many schools, colleges and assisted living facilities throughout the United States and Canada.

He presented programs in Redlands and San Bernardino early in 2020.

For information about Gaskell, go to seangaskell.com.

The Contemporary Club is at 173 S. Eureka St., Redlands.

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