Sura Susso was born in The Gambia, into a family of griots. Griots, referred to in Mandinka as Jali, are cultural figures in society across West Africa who carry the cultural knowledge and identity of the people. This hereditary legacy stretches back hundreds of years. Traditionally, the knowledge and history surrounding the kora are passed on from father to son. Griots are orators, lyricists and musicians who are also respected as a source of advice and spiritual guidance. They have an important role in key ceremonies such as naming ceremonies, and marriages.
Sura started his lifelong study of the Kora, and a range of other percussion instruments at the age of four. His father, Mamudou Susso, is a renowned kora player in The Gambia, and his late mother, Fatou Bintu Cissokho, originally from the Casamance region of Senegal, was a formidable singer and percussionist. The family household including many brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, and elders was constantly filled with music. This musical immersion in such a natural environment as a child provided the solid foundations for Sura’s musical development.
Sura moved to the UK at the age of seventeen, as the percussionist in his brother’s band, the Seckou Keita Quintet. Since his arrival in the UK, Sura has performed as a solo act as well as part of collaborations, taking part in more than five hundred shows and festivals in over thirty different countries spanning every continent. He has worked with and performed alongside renown international musicians which include Baaba Maal, Rokia Traore, Habib Koite and Sona Jobarteh.
His quest to promote the traditional music from his cultural roots in The Gambia and his fascination with experimenting new genres have led him to perform and record in a number of interesting cross-cultural settings, including collaborations with the great British-German violinist Maximilian Baillie, Chinese erhu player Ling Peng, Indian sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee, French jazz trumpeter Erik Truffaz, South African opera singer Pumeza, Spanish-Senegalese band Africai, British multi-instrumentalist Pete Josef and an album with the duo ‘Askew and Avis’, called Kora Song Radio.
Sura's debut album ‘Sila Kang’ was released on KuliMarow Music on the 20th of June 2011. Sila Kang, meaning 'on the road', was a reflection on his journey as young musician. Infused with passion and youthful vigor yet contemplative, the album received extensive airplay and critical acclaim in national publications in the UK.
His second album 'Tila Saba' is due to be released on 26 March 2021. The name, which is from a Mandinka adage, is symbolic of the transition of time and the transient nature of the world. The album embodies this concept as it explores the past, draws inspiration from the present and contemplates the future through the Kora and its journey across centuries.