Will Ridenour

Will Ridenour

 Carrboro, North Carolina, USA
BandWorldNew Age

The instrumental music of Will Ridenour is centered around the Kora, an ancient West-African bridge-harp. The melodic polyrhythmic patterns weave amazing tapestries of sound, with the bass, melody and improvisation played simultaneously. His repertoire ranges from traditional to subtle originals.


The Kora is a 21-stringed bridge-harp from West-Africa originating, according to oral traditions, centuries ago with the Senegambian Mandinka of the Kabu Empire, which encompassed parts of present-day Guinea-Bissau, southern Senegal, and the Gambia. The strings are made of fishing line and they resonate through a large, halved calabash gourd stretched with a cow hide. Traditionally, the Kora is played by Mandinka Jalis and Mande Jelis, members of a special caste of society that work as musicians and oral historians. They are walking libraries of information, artisans of speech and sound.

From Greensboro, NC, Will has played the Kora since 1999, first teaching himself and later traveling to study in Senegal and Mali. Today he plays traditional Kora music and composes original tunes with the blessings of his teachers, Djeli Madiya Diebate from Cassamance and Djeli Fily Sacko from Bamako (student of Toumani Diabate). Along with the Kora, he has studied West-African and Afro-Cuban percussion with accomplished teachers such as Madou Dembele, Michael Spiro, Thione Diop and Haruna Sidibe. On the drum set with the band Zegota, Will has performed in 40 US states and 25 countries worldwide.

Currently, he's writing music and performing on the Kora at all kinds of events from restaurants to schools to weddings to large festivals. He especially is intrigued with numerous collaborations, taking the kora to new places in the musical moment.


-2008: "Wind and Stars" CD. Instrumental and original music for healing project collaboration with Betsy Bevan, piano. Co-released.

-2007: "Will Ridenour, 's/t'" CD. Self-released containing music from both previous CDs.

-2006: "Will and Jon Ridenour, 'Wedding'" CD. Self-released instrumental kora and guitar music.

-2005: "Will Ridenour, 'Kora 2005'" CD. Self-released instrumental solo kora music.

Set List

A set by Will Ridenour is ultimately and utterly sculpt-able. It can range from 4 seconds to 3 hours, depending on the occasion. After 3 hours, people are usually asleep or don't know who they are anymore.

Typically, I play for 45 minutes and include 1/2 traditional, 1/2 original songs. Sometimes, rarely, when I'm feeling especially robust, I do a cover.

It should be noted that the traditional songs I do are not my material, but is my interpretation of them (with respect to their origins).


1. Kelefaba/Na muso
2. Alla la'ke
3. Bane
4. Jeliya/Lamban
5. Kaira
6. Simbon Bediatalema
7. Mamasao
8. Kulanjan
9. Waaraba

Original works are numerous and always changing. Improvisation is a large part of my performance.