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Jaliba Kuyateh

Jaliba Kuyateh




The Journey of Jaliba Kuyateh

Jaliba Kuyateh, widely recognized as the "King of Kora," has left an indelible mark on Gambian music with his unique blend of traditional kora beats and modern pop music, often referred to as "kora pop." Born on April 13, 1957 in Niamina Dankunku to musician parents, Jaliba was bestowed with his name, meaning "great praise singer or griot," by his father in anticipation of his future greatness. Growing up in a family steeped in musical tradition, Jaliba's early years were marked by a focus on education alongside his musical upbringing.

Despite coming from a long line of musicians, Jaliba's formal education took precedence, leading him to attend primary and secondary schools before pursuing higher education at The Gambia College. However, his passion for music was evident from a young age, as he was made to practice playing the Kora as a form of discipline, ultimately developing a deep love and mastery of the instrument.

Jaliba initially embarked on a career in education, teaching at various primary schools and later joining the ministry of education, youth, sports, and culture. However, his musical talent continued to shine through, and he eventually transitioned to become a full-time musician, forming the Kumareh Band in 1987. With the release of their debut album "Radio Kantang" in 1993, Jaliba and the Kumareh Band quickly gained popularity both locally and internationally, embarking on successful tours and receiving accolades for their music.

Throughout his illustrious career spanning nearly three decades, Jaliba has received numerous awards and recognition for his musical contributions and philanthropic endeavors. Notably, he was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador for his charitable work with children in the Gambia and has been honored with awards such as Gambia's "Man of the Year" and a Pan African festival award. His influence extends beyond borders, with countries like Guinea Bissau and Senegal granting him honorary citizenship and recognition for his advocacy efforts.

In addition to his musical achievements, Jaliba has been a staunch advocate for accessible healthcare in the Gambia, with hospitals naming maternity wards in his honor. His commitment to both music and social causes has garnered widespread acclaim, earning him accolades such as a Testimonial Resolution from The Detroit City Council and an appointment as a Goodwill KORA Ambassador for the KORA AWARDS campaign to fight Ebola.

In 2023, Jaliba's contributions to music and society were further recognized with an honorary fellowship at Goldsmiths University of London, cementing his status as a cultural icon and humanitarian figure in the Gambia and beyond.


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Place of Birth: Niamina Dankunku



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Date of Birth: April 13, 1957

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