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Derek Gripper Takes Guitar In A New Direction

Image of South African guitarist Derek Gripper
Coutesy of Derek Gripper
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South African guitarist Derek Gripper is world-renowned for bringing West African kora music to the guitar.

South African musician Derek Gripper has been playing classical music since he was 6-years-old. But after years of studying in Cape Town, he felt uninspired by the classical guitar repertoire available to him, so he set off on a journey to discover musical inspiration from around the world. He traveled first to South India, and then explored Brazilian music before he happened upon the instrument that changed the direction of his career: the kora.

The kora is a 21-string harp from West Africa, but Gripper found a way to adapt its music to his classical guitar. Gripper has since collaborated with kora master Toumani Diabate and a number of other famous African composers and performers. Host Frank Stasio talks with Derek Gripper, a composer musician and teacher, about his musical career. ​

Watch Derek Gripper perform kora music on the guitar:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSIGLpK9aQI

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.