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Mariam Jobe: Fast-rising Gambian Afro-Mbalax Queen

By Sering B Sanneh (Jaalolu)

With a career spanning over a decade now, Mariam Jobe is indisputably one of The Gambia’s promising Afro-Mbalax artists. The golden voice singer, widely applauded for her captivating and energetic stage presence began her musical career at an early age working her way up as a backing vocalist for many renowned musicians and bands in The Gambia such as Camara Kinda Band, Tranquillou Band, One Man Four Drums to name a few.

Growing up in a Griot family, Mariam recognised her passion for music at a tender age. It was at age 15 that she started taking it more seriously. The rising songwriter, composer, and singer remain focused on developing her skills, learning from her mentors, and crafting a unique culturally rich sound and identity which is ready for export onto the international stage.

Mariam’s creativity and talents caught the eyes of the state broadcaster of The Gambia (GRTS) who scouted her and eventually secured the role of a resident performer at one of their entertainment shows dubbed “Ngonal” anchored by Awe Gai which ran between 2018 to 2019.

Gradually amassing more airtime on entertainment TV, Mariam has performed and featured on various programs in the two most watched TV stations in The Gambia. GRTS (Valentine’s Day Celebrations) and QTV (performed with her traditional band on “Goudi Ngoyan”) gradually made her a familiar face in the entertainment industry.

A natural talent is never missed when it comes to creativity. Mariam’s versatility and eye for creativity led to her securing a character role in a Success Seeker Filming Group movie called “Penchum Saloum” as well as performing at the premiere of the movie. Following on from that, Mariam acted as a Royal Griot with an international film group called “Kooru Soleil Levant”.

As a composer and songwriter, Mariam’s songs are always educative and inspiring addressing societal issues and her observations of current affairs. Delivered in her melodious and catchy tone, her songs are always ear-warmers that stay in one’s mind long after listening to her.

Harite which is one of her most notable singles is a song about good friendship. Drawing on personal experiences, the Kora-infused song is a soothing song lamenting the importance of having a friend for the life you can rely on in good and bad times.

Whilst Balma is a relationship song about seeking forgiveness from a loved one and trying to stop feeling angry or resentful towards them for offending you. Exercising her creativity with her songwriting, the Mbalax
and Reggae inspired laid back song is like talking to a loved one you fell out with;

Quote “Have you not seen how lonely I am?
We were happier yesterday; I & You should never end”,
“Don’t let people laugh at us, don’t even have any regrets”
“I know you’re waiting for me so that we can be like we were”.

On a broader scale, Mariam always supports her fellow artists and has been featured on projects such as the awareness anthem “Oneness Gambia and Scorpions” which was commissioned by the National Female Artists Association (NAFAA) of The Gambia featuring some of the top female artists in the country. Mariam is currently the elected assistant Public Relations Officer of NAFAA.

October 11, 2022, she secured a contract with The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), a national agency responsible for promoting and facilitating private sector investments in the country to perform on the opening day of its annual trade fare alongside Nigerian superstar artist Teni.

She also played a key role in NAFAA’s organised show titled Women United Festival held on 17th September 2022, which was sponsored by German Federation and Music in Africa. During the event, she was assigned as the performance director and the stage manager allowing her to practice some of her skills aside from performing and writing.

In October 2022, she participated in a three-day summit called ‘African Women Conference’ in Banjul and a day later signed a project with Finland-based artist Marta Lion as a backing vocalist for his second album titled “Fondinkelu”.

Mariam Jobe Currently working on numerous projects that include her much-anticipated album, Mariam Jobe remains optimistic about her musical career. She is currently busy working and recording her debut studio album titled “DAMAI SANTA YALLAH” which is due for release on 2nd June 2023 at Penchami Hall. The album will be a masterpiece taking fans along Mariam’s journey as a professional musician and giving thanks to her creator for blessing her with such a unique talent.

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Yunus S Saliu

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