Biography of Tormenta Jobarteh

The “White Griot” Tormenta Jobarteh grew up in Munich, and studied the drums at the Dante-Augistini Institute. However, his African soul gave him the drive to find the place he truly belonged – his “Kunda”. As a musician, he toured with various bands across Europe, Asia, and America, until 1987, where he met a band from The Gambia and was invited to this tiny, West-African country. This has far-reaching consequences. He heard the wonderful sounds of the Kora for the first time, played by a musician who truly had mastered the west-african lute-harp. Tormenta spent eight years in Boraba, studying under his mentor, Basuro Jobarteh, the famous Griot of Boraba, Fulladou. During this time, he went through an intensive study of the Kora, the Mandinka language, and the entire Maninka culture. He entrenched himself so deeply into the culture of his chosen home that the Jobarteh family chose to adopt him.

jeliba-bunt-584x1024Griots (Jaliya in the Mandinka language) are musicians, historians, chroniclers, storytellers, and advisers, all in one. Their traditions are passed down from father to son, and they have enjoyed a great amount of respect among the people of the Gambia for centuries.

Tormenta Jobarteh was declared a Griot, with all the rights and responsibilities – an entirely unique situation, for a non-african with white skin. With this incredible honor, and with the great experience of having found his “Kunda” and having given it a way of expressing itself musically and vocally, Tormenta Jobarteh began to transport this experience to Germany and the rest of Europe. Along with it, he brought the rich culture of the Mandinka Griots. In relation to his own European and African roots, he began to create a new musical concept. A concept based in a mutual understanding of its two great cultural roots.

Tormenta Jobarteh has been touring with his World Music group Jobarteh-Kunda and solo as a storyteller for over 20 years. He has been to international festivals and pedagogic events. He was the best German-speaking storyteller (of 16) at the first festival in Neukirchen-Vluyn on the 2nd of July, 2005. The story CD Taling-Taling was given the top prize of the Bavarian state government. His band Jobarteh-Kunda was nominated for the German Ruth World Music Prize in 2005, the BBC Award in 2005, and the World of Music Award in 2009!


“Abaraka” Jobarteh-Kunda, Urkult, Indigo 1999

“Ali Heja” Jobarteh-Kunda, Bibiafrica, Indigo 2002

“Taling-Taling” Eine geheimnisvolle Reise in Afrika Musikhörspiel 2004

“ADO” Sankt Michaelsbund Verlag 2008

“Dentulus der Löwe” LAGZ 2009

“AHA!” Jobarteh Kunda Aimland Records 2009

“Jeliba der Geschichtenerzähler” Sankt Michaelsbund Verlag 2011

“DondĂ© estas 2016

“Stranded & Disliked 2017

“Teriya 2018