Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Talents shine @ Bless the Mic- arts and music festival

When Emcees Africa came to town last week to look for a freestyle rapper to represent Ghana in South Africa later this year, many folks who were at the contest went wild against the final choice. Others also thought it was a poor showing by talents who came out to exhibit their on-the-spot skills in stringing rhyming words.

Contrary, there was an exciting show of class last Saturday when Alliance Francais hosted Bless the Mic-Arts and Music festival at their open air theatre to a lively audience of spoken word and music lovers. The event brought together unsigned artistes and performers in attempt to support local talent as well as revive the arts. Interestingly, almost all the artistes who represented at the show performed together with a live band with ease.

“We organised this event this event to give a platform to emerging and established artists to share their talents, hone their skills, and network with industry professionals” said PY Addo-B Annan, co-emcee and main organiser of the event.

Bless the Mic featured performers of spoken word, acoustic music, sax collaboration, traditional music, reggae, hip-hop and hip-life rap. The rap and reggae performers delivered smoothly with the support of the well-known 4-man live band, Sound factory, which without a fault played classic tunes with jazz effects that swept over the audience to also sing along.

The night started off with a six-minute spoken word out-pour by Yasmin with her lamentations of a Diasporan longing to see the Motherland. The Black American and Afro centric student, who is currently studying in Ghana, was accompanied with a faint live sax tune in the background under dim lights for a perfect mood and feel.

Also on the night’s bill was Motombo, another astounding and exciting spoken word artist to listen to, whose popularity seemed to be soaring among poetry enthusiasts after featuring in 20-minute NT1 Poetry series that was aired on TV Africa during the latter part of the previous year.

When it was his turn to perform, he took the audience through a captivating ode to the hip-life music genre that recognised founder, Reggie Rockstone, Nananom, Nana King, Obrafour and a host of other artistes who have contributed to the genre.

“This was my mission to a Chief’s palace to find hip-life because they said hip-life was dead”, he said.

Motombo has also performed as a guest artist on the famous music reality show tagged Mentor, on TV3.

The petite freestyle rapper and first runner up of Emcees Africa, Props, gave a good account of himself to a rapturous audience. PY Addo B Annan, CEO of MI Prime Entertainment, openly asserted Props should have won the Emcees Africa-Ghana contest, before introducing the young rapper to patrons at Alliance Francais.

PY says “only if you were at the Tantra Night club last week, everybody knew he was the one who should have won.”

Reggae and dancehall were also fully appreciated when the talented and budding reggae sensation, Stone boy collaborated with Patan, the Jamaican-speaking and eccentric rastafar-i ragga artist aided by the sound factory live band. The duo entertained everyone to their exceptional music flow amid wild stage antics and dance moves.

Traditional music was not left out of the package as opportunity was given to Gunna Music, formerly Hewale Soundz, an 8-member cultural troupe to also shine with their unique indigenous music and choreography.

some performers who also showed class at the event were, Trig-matic, rapper and YFM “Campus Level” host, Kweku T/D-Black teaming up to perform a live rendition of “move”, their latest release and D.K Osei, another distinctive Ghanaian spoken word act based in the UK.

Others also include fast and witty rapper Kochoko, acoustic poets Ras Bomba/Rhyme Soni, The Matcho Rapper, Dre, RonnyO, Skillionz, and the underground hip-hop character Illa.

Bless the Mic was started 4years ago by MI Prime Entertainment and it takes place every Thursday night at the Baze Lounge and Bar in Osu Re-Accra.

images @ Bless the Mic

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Culture Caravan

Touring 8cities across the southern belt of Ghana, the CULTURE CARAVAN,sponsored by theFrench Embassy and Vodafone, stopped atJAMES TOWN-MANTSE AGBONAA inACCRA last sunday 3rd May,2009 after performances at Takoradi, Elmina and Kasoa.

The caravan features Hiplife legend Reggie RockstoneKwaw Kesse, King Ayisoba and pidgin rapper Wanlov Koborlor. Others also onthe tour are the traditional master drummerOkyerema Yaw Kontor and Joy Fm's DJ Black.

The Culture Caravan is a novelty which adopts traditional/hiphiplife music and acting on stage with popular songs. It's therefore not surprising that the producer this exciting event, Panji Anoff describes as a "revival of the concert party format".


From thursday 8th May, the Culture Caravan will be at Koforidua Jackson Park, saturday 9th-Nkawkaw Ofori Park, sunday 10th May-Obuasi Black Park.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ghanaba goes home

In the heat of the elections and just six days to the 2nd round election, Ghanaba, who also goes by the honorary title “Odomankoma Kyerema” to wit, The Divine Drummer, silently took in his last breath and passed on into the last next world.

Ghanaba was born Kpakpo Akwei 85years ago but later changed his name to Guy Warren in the United States when he started fusing African drum beats with Western jazz which earned him the credit as the originator of Afro-Jazz.

NewsAfrican-Ghana was at his funeral that was organised at the State House and the cremation ceremony at the Osu Cemetary on Saturday 28th March, 2009 to pay my respect to one of Ghana’s finest musicians and a Pan-Africanist.

People from all shades of persuasions were present, Statesmen, Chiefs and Traditionalists, Buddhists and Hare Krishner followers, entertainers, music researchers and producers, Poets and journalists etc.

Without a doubt, Ghanaba was such a person who significantly identified with the above group of people. Being once a journalist himself, the divine drummer was also a very close friend and father figure to former President of Ghana, J.J Rawlings, who literally stood on at the cremation grounds until he saw the dying embers of his inspirational friend’s pyre. On the following Sunday, the ashes of the jazz great was scattered at his Midie home.

Ghana’s Poetry legend and Secretary-General of the Pan-African Writers Association of Ghana (P.A.W.A), Professor Atukwei Okai recited and dramatized a dirge with intermittent drumming of the “fromtomfrom” drum in praise of Kofi Ghanaba. The dirge, with the title, “An umbilical Totem-Obelisk Concerto for the Divine Drummer” is also dedicated to H.E Maitre Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal, and the late Setheli Ashong-Katai, a distinguished film director, actor and scriptwriter who also passed away on March 17, 2009.