Duke Performances is now Duke Arts presents. Learn more.

Duke Arts Presents

Black Atlantic: Derek Gripper & Africa Strings

Monday, March 25, 2019 | 8:00 pm

Motorco Music Hall

The ‘Black Atlantic’ Package, which provides access to all ‘Black Atlantic’ shows at Motorco and best available reserved seats in Baldwin Auditorium, including performances by Derek Gripper, Fatoumata Diawara, Noura Mint Seymali, Daymé Arocena, The Campbell Brothers, Dafnis Prieto Big Band, and Danilo Brito, is now on sale. Packages are available for purchase online, via phone at 919-684-4444, and in person at the Duke University Box Office, Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 6 PM.


South African classical guitarist Derek Gripper gave himself what seemed to be an impossible task: to transcribe the intricate twenty-one-string-kora compositions of Malian master Toumani Diabaté for six-string guitar. When Diabaté himself heard the results, the awestruck musician demanded confirmation that he was indeed only hearing one guitar; he later invited Gripper to collaborate. For decades, Gripper has worked to create a new international repertoire for classical guitar. In that quest, he has turned to the music of South Africa and Brazil, but consecutive albums of his sublime kora interpretations — his breakthrough One Night on Earth (2012) and his award-winning Libraries on Fire (2016) — have made him one of the world’s foremost guitarists and contextualized the kora’s mesmerizing counterpoint in the classical tradition. Joined by Congolese guitarist Jaja Bashengezi and Ugandan multi-instrumentalist Kinobe as part of his African Strings Project, Gripper is an essential musical emissary.

Derek Gripper 'NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert'

Derek Gripper 'Salama/Jarabi'

Derek Gripper 'Miniyamba'

“Doing sublime justice to this music on six strings is an incredible achievement. It is music that leaves you feeling a little more than human, a little better than human.”

Mail & Guardian