Sophie Lukacs at the Abbey

The Details

Sophie Lukacs is a Budapest born, Montreal based artist, who grew up studying the violin and western classical music. Of Jewish Hungarian descent, she is most inspired by music’s power to move and bring people together. She is the grand-daughter of Eva Fahidi, a prominent writer and dancer who survived the Holocaust, and with whom she sang her first Hungarian folk songs.

Sophie begins adulthood studying International Development and Music at McGill University. She travels on an internship to Burkina Faso, where she first discovers the musical culture of the Mandingue tradition, and its majestic instrument: the kora.

This music moves her deeply.  Yet, she can’t imagine how to learn the instrument, since the kora is traditionally reserved for men from the “griot” caste. Sophie returns to Montreal to study pre-med, but music is never forgotten. She plays in the McGill orchestra, and listens compulsively to any kora recordings she finds. Finally, she leaves university, moves to New York, and immerses herself in music, dance, literature. One memorable day, riding the subway, Sophie steps out at Columbus circle, and hears the call of the kora. She follows the music and finds kora master Malang Jobarteh playing in the station. It’s the sign she has been waiting for. She studies kora in New York and Montreal, then travels to Paris for a masterclass with kora legend Toumani Diabaté. Diabaté invites her to Bamako, she packs, and leaps into the unknown.

For 7 years, in Mali, Sophie devotes herself to the kora and its traditional repertoire. Only after that does she acknowledge the stirring of her own music and stories. With the blessing and encouragement of her many teachers and mentors, including Habib Koité, and Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté, and with profound gratitude for all they have shared with her, Sophie begins to compose her own music on the kora.

Sophie releases her LP “Bamako,” in 2023, written and recorded mostly in Mali, featuring two tracks with the legendary Habib Koité. The album is nominated in the Global Roots Album of the Year category at the 2024 Canadian Folk Music Awards, and is praised in SONGLINES journal as a “splendid debut album” with “rich and lyrical” playing. On stage, Sophie performs with cello and percussion and sings in all the languages she speaks: English, French, Hungarian and Bambara. In 2024,  Sophie Lukacs will tour in Canada, US, Europe.