Sunday, August 22, 2010

The First One: Agoro Nkoaa, Simigwa, Gbo Ofɔ Minɔ


The deeper I go into this music, African music, the more I fall in love, and the more I want to share it with as many people as possible.  This blog is an attempt to do just that.  Here, my posts will focus mainly on Ghanaian music in its many rich forms, from Highlife, Gospel and Hiplife to the work of composers like Kwabena Nketia and the tremendously diverse array of traditional music styles.  In addition to old albums I plan to post videos, photos, text from books, and any other small findings from the net you might find interesting. 

I've started by posting three albums from the '70s, none of which are particularly related to each other. The first, "Agoro Nkoaa: Party Time Africa," is a compilation by Agoro Records featuring the likes of Ogyatanaa, Ambolley, Wulomei, Eddie Donkor, Houghas Sorowonko, etc.  Also, the cover is one of my all-time favorites!  Here's a nice description from the back:

"Agoro Records provides on this album a non-stop medley of entertaining and exciting HIGHLIFE music -- particularly prevalent along the West Coast of Africa -- at its best.  It is surely the music that should make your 'life' go 'high' ; the type of sound you are bound to hear wherever two or three of the folks are gathered -- for what is a party? Every such time is Party Time in Africa -- as long as there is a sound to arouse that inborn rhythmic feeling."

Gyedu-Blay Ambolley's "Simigwa" is a classic that makes you feel like dancing right away. It's not exactly afrobeat (at least not Fela style), but there's something about Ambolley's own unique brand of funk (with a bit of James Brown thrown in) that grabs me more than most similar artists. You can read more about him here if you'd like. Listen to it.

I think this album by The Ashiedu Keteke Cultural Group is amazing, one of my favorites in the Ga cultural style played by groups like Wulomei, Suku, Dzadzeloi, etc. (there are dozens more). "Ashiedu Keteke" is one of Accra's eleven sub-metro areas, containing the dynamic neighborhood of Ga Mashie in "old Accra, the historical center of the capital city of Ghana."  This Ga area is rich in history, encompassing places like Jamestown, Ussher Town, Bukom and others.  It is where the Ga cultural style was born during the '70s (and continues to flourish) along with somewhat older "traditional" styles like Kpanlogo, Gome, and Kolomashie.  Ga Mashie currently faces some economic hardships in terms of development and poverty alleviation, yet this area remains beautiful, vital and inspiring.  I'm sure I will go into more depth about Ga Mashie, cultural highlife, and Ga music in the future, but for now check out John B.'s  great post "Ga Cultural Highlife" at Likembe if you haven't already.

Also, please enjoy this giant billboard of Gyedu-Blay Ambolley 
next to the post office in Accra!

8 comments:

  1. Excellent selection! Best of luck on your new endeavor!

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  2. Great choices here - and all the best on your blog!

    Spinning (http://spinninginair.blogspot.com)

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  3. Great to have another blog in this sphere. I hope to join in near future with a very little contribution, let's see. Go ahead!

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  4. Thanks so much for filling this obvious gap in the African blogosphere. Your first posts are amazing, and you can bet I'm going to be here often.

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  5. Thank you to all the well-wishers. Long live African music!

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  6. What a stunning selection. The Ashiedu Keteke, especially, is marvellous. Thank you so much.

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  7. Thank you so much for posting Agoro Nkoaa. I've been wanting to hear that 4th Dimension track for a long time now! Cheers!

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