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Musa Filly Jobarteh: A Musical Prodigy

My Magazine 2023/06
13 min
Musa Filly Jobarteh was born in Brikama, The Gambia, into a Griot family. His father, Ebrima Jobarteh, was Gambia’s leading Djembe exporter, as well as a musician and promoter. At the tender age of three, the boy began playing around with the instrument and became a versatile player when he was 5. This article was originally published in June 2021.

It was at this age that he gained his first professional performance alongside his father at World Music Day, which took place at Alliance Franco in the Gambia. With his deep interest in instruments, the young boy didn’t only learn to play the djembe but also studied other traditional instruments such as the Mandinka Serubaa, Senegalese Sabar and Jola Bokarabo.

He was the lead Djembe player in his fathers’ band and the youngest djembe player in the Gambia. He performed across the country alongside his fathers’ band and other local bands. At the age of 7, Musa was invited to play with one of the most renowned Senegalese Bugurabu players, the late Bakary Olay.

Musa’s music career began in 2018 to 2019, when his friend realized he has a gift due to his amazing vocal skill. At first, Musafilly was in doubt and didn’t think he could be good at this. Slowly, he began singing by himself and realized he was gifted in the singing area, which marked the beginning of his singing music career. In 2019 his song Kanunyo hit the industry throwing him into the limelight of entertainment.

˝It was not easy; there were lots of challenges˝.

Being a child star who was recognized for playing the traditional instrument and later became a music icon in a short period was a rough journey for the young boy. But he pushed through it and never gave up on his dreams.

In 2012 Musa completed and launched his debut album entitled Allah Tentou, which features Djembe, Kora Doundoun, and Balafon. He is the winner of the Gambia’s Got Talent 2013 and came out as 1st runner up in Rising Star Africa 2017. The same year he travelled with his cousin Sona Jobarteh to Switzerland and Malta to perform at the World Music Festival.

In 2019 the youngster travelled to the UK to play at the new music Biennale Festival at the South Bank Centre in London. The event was part of the new music biennale PRS for music foundation initiative – partnership with absolute cultured, South Bank Centre, BBC Radio 3 and NMC recordings.

Musa recently released his trending song called Wakilo, which is also available on YouTube. Musa is currently teaching djembe at the Gambia Academy and playing at various Gambian restaurants with his band.

He was a Djembe teacher at Marina International School and the French School in the Gambia but is now holding classes at Sona Jobarteh’s music school (Gambia Academy). Sharing his knowledge with peers is a passion that makes him feel fulfilled, he said.

"Sharing my knowledge makes me feel proud and happy as it is a way of keeping the culture of my forefathers".

He has collaborated with big music stars in the Gambia. He is currently working on a collaboration with a well known Zimbabwean artist. He is also working on his first music album and hoping to stage a huge concert at the Independence Stadium in the subsequent year.

At the end of our interview, he expressed his deep gratitude to his father for his endless support and encouragement, not forgetting his fans who have supported him on his path.

"To my fans, keep supporting, and I promise I will make you proud."

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