Born in 1967 in the village of Minta in East Cameroon, Richard Bona grew up in a home filled with music. He began to perform in public at the age of five, singing in the village church with his mother and four sisters. His earliest instruments were wooden flutes and hand percussion. Eventually he constructed his own 12-string acoustic guitar. After moving to the bigger city of Douala, Richard began playing gigs at the age of 11 on a rented electric guitar. A major turning point in his life happened in 1980 when a Frenchman came to his town and established a jazz club in a local hotel. The club owner heard about the young local prodigy and hired him to assemble a band. I didn't know anything about jazz, Richard says, but the gig paid really well, so I took it. The hotel provided the instruments, so Richard would spend his entire day there, learning to play all of the instruments and teaching himself to read and write music. The club owner also offered his collection of 500 jazz LPs as a kind of reference library for Bona to start learning the repertoire. Purely by chance, the first record he pulled out of the stacks was Jaco Pastorius, the revolutionary self-titled debut album from 1976 by the bassist from Weather Report. This single album became a kind of Rosetta Stone for Bona's entry into jazz. Before I heard Jaco I'd never even considered playing bass, he recalls. But when I heard that music, and especially the tune 'Portrait of Tracy,' it changed my life
Read more articles
November 24, 2014
Richard Bona Headlines Penang Island Jazz Festival, December 4-7, 2014
September 18, 2011
Richard Bona Performing in The Dominican Republic
July 02, 2010
Richard Bona, 7th Winner of the Antonio Carlos Jobim Award
May 18, 2010
The Festival International de Jazz de Montreal Honours Smokey Robinson,...
February 25, 2010
The Town Hall Presents Lizz Wright & Richard Bona Friday, April 9th at...
September 19, 2008
Lionel Loueke & Richard Bona
September 05, 2008
Duo Tones- Lionel Loueke & Richard Bona
August 13, 2008
Lionel Loueke & Richard Bona at Jazz at Lincoln Center
February 13, 2008
Richard Bona Band Debut Performance of Afro-Cuban Global Jazz with...
July 21, 2005
Kazumi Watanabe, Horacio 'El' Negro Hernandez and Richard Bona's MoBop...
It’s not cool to be impressed by the latest whiz kid to hit town. But even the hippest of the hip give it up when the subject turns to Richard Bona, a slight, shy virtuoso of the electric bass guitar from a mud-hut village deep in Cameroon. -- Newsweek
Imagine an artist with Jaco Pastorious's virtuosity, George Benson's vocal fluidity, Joao Gilberto's sense of song and harmony, all mixed up with African culture. Ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Richard Bona! -- Los Angeles Times