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Feb. 22 UCSB Arts & Lectures Presents Taj Mahal and Sona Jobarteh at Campbell Hall

February 22 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm PST

UCSB Arts & Lectures presents Blues legend Taj Mahal Quintet with Gambia’s griot kora sensation Sona Jobarteh on Thursday, February 22 at 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall



  • UCSB Arts & Lectures presents Taj Mahal Quintet and Sona Jobarteh
  • Thu, Feb 22 | 8 p.m. | Campbell Hall  
  • Grammy Award-winning blues icon Taj Mahal and his Quintet join Gambia’s griot kora sensation, Sona Jobarteh, in this unique and virtuosic evening of new world music. 
  • $70 / $50 / $35 / $15 UCSB students (Very limited tickets available. Contact the A&L Ticket Office at (805) 893-3535.)
  • Tickets & Info: www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu

“It’s hard to imagine a more eclectic musician than Taj Mahal. In a storied career that spans well over 55 years, Taj… has constantly defied any and every preconceived musical boundary.” American Songwriter

“Sona Jobarteh is Africa’s first female griot kora virtuoso, and also a fine singer and composer, blending traditional music, blues and Afropop to impressive effect.” The Guardian (U.K.)

Santa Barbara, CA – UCSB Arts & Lectures presents Taj Mahal Quintet and Sona Jobarteh on Thursday, February 22 at 8 p.m. at Campbell Hall. Celebrated blues legend Taj Mahal brings his glorious voice and virtuosic multi-instrumentalism to this uniquely powerful evening of new world music. A musical innovator, cultural ambassador and winner of the 2023 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album, Taj Mahal’s long career touches on every imaginable strand in the fabric of roots music. Joining the Taj Mahal Quartet is Gambia’s griot kora sensation Sona Jobarteh, who regularly plays to sold-out crowds all over the world. Witness the alchemy of African griot traditions and American blues in this special evening.

Taj Mahal – Queen Bee – Bloody Sunday Session (Bloody Sunday Session)

Sona Jobarteh – GAMBIA (Official Video) (The African Guild)


If anyone knows where to find the blues, it’s Taj Mahal. A brilliant artist with a musicologist’s mind, he has pursued and elevated the roots of beloved sounds with boundless devotion and skill. Then, as he traced origins to the American South, the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere, he created entirely new sounds, over and over again. As a result, he’s not only a god to rock ’n’ roll icons such as Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones, but also a hero to ambitious artists toiling in obscurity who are determined to combine sounds that have heretofore been ostracized from one another. No one is as simultaneously traditional and avant-garde.

Quantifying Taj’s significance is impossible, but people try anyway. A 2017 Grammy win for TajMo, his collaboration with Keb’ Mo’, brought his Grammy tally to three wins and 14 nominations, and underscored his undiminished relevance more than 50 years after his solo debut. Blues Hall of Fame membership, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association and other honors punctuate his resume. He appreciates the accolades, but his motivation lies elsewhere. “It’s not a hunger, not a lust or even a thirst,” Taj says of what drives him. “It’s just more knowledge of self – to realize that almost everything is right here. We’re so used to looking outside of ourselves for things, and it’s right here.”

Over the years, Taj had also emerged as a mind-boggling, multifaceted player. In addition to the guitar, he has become proficient on about 20 different instruments – and counting. “There weren’t an awful lot of people still playing these instruments that came from my culture,” Taj explains. “Not that they didn’t before, but nobody was playing them in the time I was. But I wanted to hear them. So I watched people play, got one, sat down, remembered the music that I was listening to, and started picking it out on the mandolin or banjo or 12-string.”

As Taj thinks about the dozens and dozens of albums, collaborations, live experiences and captured sounds, he finds satisfaction in one main idea. “As long as I’m never sitting here, saying to myself, ‘You know? You had an idea 50 years ago, and you didn’t follow through,’ I’m really happy,” he says. “It doesn’t even matter that other people get to hear it. It matters that I get to hear it – that I did it.”


Preserving her musical past, Sona Jobarteh innovates to support a more humanitarian future. The spirit of Sona Jobarteh’s musical work stands on the mighty shoulders of the West African griot tradition; she is a living archive of the Gambian people. With one ear on the family’s historic reputation, one on the all-important future legacy and her heart in both places, she is preparing a place today for the next generation. Her singing and kora playing while fronting her band spring directly from this tradition. The extent of her recognition today is evidenced by more than 23 million viewers on YouTube and considerable numbers on other digital platforms.

Sona Jobarteh has performed at venues from the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to Symphony Space in New York, and she’s sold out the Barbican in London, Cologne’s Philharmonie and the Seine Musicale in Paris. These performances are underpinned by her skills as a composer arising from early days at London’s RCM and Purcell School of Music.

Sona Jobarteh scored the 2010 documentary Motherland and is featured on the soundtrack of Beast (2022), starring Idris Elba. She co-wrote a track on LL Cool J’s latest album with Q Tip, and filmed several of her live shows for CBS’ 60 minutes.

Jobarteh’s dedication to spreading powerful humanitarian messages through her songs and her stage performances makes her much more than a musician; she is active in social change and leads by example. She singlehandedly set up The Gambia Academy, a pioneering institution dedicated to achieving educational reform across the continent of Africa. The academy is the first of its kind to deliver a mainstream academic curriculum at a high level, while also bringing the culture and traditions of its students to the forefront of their everyday education. These efforts have garnered her invitations to speak at high profile events around the world – including summits for the UN, the World Trade Organization and UNICEF.


Founded in 1959, UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L) is the largest and most influential arts and lectures organization between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A&L annually presents more than a hundred public events, from critically acclaimed concerts and dance performances by world-renowned artists to talks by groundbreaking authors and film series at UCSB and Santa Barbara-area venues. With a mission to “educate, entertain and inspire,” A&L also oversees an outreach program that brings visiting artists and speakers into local classrooms and other venues for master classes, open rehearsals, discussions and more, serving K-12 students, college students and the general public.

Taj Mahal Quintet and Sona Jobarteh is presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures in association with UCSB Department of Music.

Special thanks: KCSB

Tickets are $70 / $50 / $35 / $15 UCSB students (Very limited tickets available. Contact the A&L Ticket Office at (805) 893-3535.)

For tickets or more information, call UCSB Arts & Lectures at (805) 893-3535 or purchase online at www.ArtsAndLectures.UCSB.edu.


Campbell Hall
Campbell Hall
Isla Vista, CA 93106 United States
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(805) 963-3366
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