Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs)

The stage and hosts

Not everyone is afforded the opportunity to attend a major, national awards ceremony. I won’t say “never,” but my career aspirations will probably keep me away from the accolades and/or money required to grab a ticket for, say, The Grammys. But in early April, I was able to secure a seat at the Vodaphone (sponsored) Ghana Music Awards (VGMAs). It was quite an experience and one that I will never forget! There WAS a red carpet filled with press cameras, TV personalities as well as screaming fans. There were pre-show interviews about which designers the celebrities were sporting, their pending nominations and other aspects of their personal lives. There were rows of seats in front reserved for all of the biggest names in Ghanaian music from High Life legend Daddy Lumba to up-and-comer Mz. Vee, hip life mainstays Edem and E.L, and international stars like Yemi Alade. I was pleased to see many artists take the opportunity to shine light on social issues from the recent tragedy in Kenya to the struggles with Boko Haram.
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Wednesday, June 24th, 2015 Thoughts, Video No Comments

Da Hip Life Episode 1- Interview with Edem

Da Hip Life is the newest series from Da-What shining a spotlight on the Ghanaian music scene past and present. Episode 1 kicks off with Edem, one of the biggest artists out there.
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Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 Thoughts, Video 5 Comments

Adventures with Royal Hartigan – Pt. 3

Royal Map 3

The final installment of the trilogy of my travels with royal hartigan and blood drum spirit, blending Western Jazz music and traditional Ghanaian music, concludes with the Ashanti Region and Accra. We were based in royal’s current hometown – Kumasi, where he is a visiting professor at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (‘KNUST’ or ‘Tech’ for short). The Kumasi Cultural Center became our musical hub; their music and dance ensemble directed by Daniel Annan Sackey and led by Eric Owusu, our extended family. Practice, rehearsal sessions and video recordings included “Fontomfrom Improvisations,” “Naima” by John Coltrane, and “Tie Me Sufre” and “Hits,” both by David Bindman, combined respectively with Fontomfrom and Kete royal court musics, Adowa funeral/social music, and Sikyi social music. The Asante Fontomfrom royal court music included three main sections, Atopiretia, Akantam, and Naawia corresponding to different parts of the ceremony.
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Monday, June 8th, 2015 Thoughts, Video 1 Comment

Kopala Swag: The Copperbelt’s Hip Hop Movement

As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I have been working with Sun FM since arriving in Ndola in November. While it is not my first time affiliating with a radio station on the Copperbelt, I have been able to spend much more time becoming familiar with the daily operations and practices of Sun FM, including co-hosting a show regularly with one of the most popular presenters, Steve or “So Sick.” I was also generously given the opportunity to have my own late night show on Thursdays which has turned out to be a very fun and insightful experience. (Live stream here!)

Unlike in the U.S. where most popular FM radio stations focus on one type of genre like ‘playing today’s top hits,’ or ‘classic rock radio,’ in Zambia radio tends to focus on promoting different programs or daily themes. For instance, Sun FM has ‘Zed (Zambian music) Tuesday,’ ‘Classic Thursday,’ as well as programs ranging from one to three hours that have a particular focus in terms of music genre or discussion topic.
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Thursday, May 28th, 2015 Thoughts, Video 2 Comments

Adventures with Royal Hartigan – Pt. 2

As I mentioned in my last post about royal hartigan, I traveled for three weeks around Ghana with a jazz quartet as they blended western jazz music with the traditional African rhythms found regionally around this country.

map of Ghana

Our first day of shooting was here in Accra, and we were lucky enough to use the facilities of the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre in Cantonments as blood drum spirit arranged High Fly by Randy Weston with Kpanlogo dance drumming of the Ga People. Our shooting location fit perfectly with the mission in every sense of the word; there wasn’t a better place to which African American music could return.
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Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 Thoughts, Video No Comments


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