Afro-Beat

Highlife, Afrofusion and the re-emergence of Bob Pinodo Music (@BPinodoOfficial)

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E.T. MENSAH
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Some members of Szaabu Sounds managed by Bob Pinodo & J. Collins in the mid-70’s

Highlife is a musical genre that originated from West Africa; Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Its roots can be traced back to the 1880s, to music of marching bands, sailors and palm wine drinking groups. Thought to be of reference to parties by the European upper-class, the
term ‘highlife’, was coined in the 1920s with dance orchestras playing at parties of the elite, while poor rural musicians played guitar-oriented versions at palm wine drinking places for a calabash of drink or a token of gift. The guitar-based style of music rose to prominence in the 1950s and became associated with the pre-independence sound as it incorporated elements of swing, jazz and Cuban rhythms with the emerging guitar styles of West Africa. Describing this fusion of sounds, Professor John Collins – a musicologist at the University of Ghana – wrote: “By combining…so-called high-class music with local street tunes, a totally different type of music was born – the highlife we know today.” Highlife music then became the dialogue that led to the birth of an independent nation Ghana, in 1957. A number of guitar highlife
outfits were formed, most popular being ET Mensah and “The Tempos” band, Nana Ampadu and “The African Brothers” band, Agya Koo Nimo, A.B. Crentsil, and other highlife bands as Ramblers International and the Professional Uhuru Dance Band.

The rise of Congolese music in the 1960s coupled with the overthrow of Ghana’s Premier Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, resulted in a decline in the popularity of highlife music. The upheaval saw many Ghanaian musicians that had flourished in the 60s emigrating. Most
moved to Nigeria, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany among other countries. By the start of the 1970s, highlife music had been over taken by pop music and electric guitar bands. Music produced by African Americans and Europeans began to exert a heightened influence over the Ghanaian music, giving it the rather global appeal.  The heightened interest in ‘World’ music in the United Kingdom and the United States saw the focus of Ghanaian music spread away from Africa. Perhaps this was the reason why some Ghanaian musicians and records made it bigger overseas than home; one such being the legendary Bob Pinodo.

00-BOBBob Pinodo is one of Ghana’s foremost musical showmen, traveling around the country with his own variety show which featured dance, music, and comedy. He was awarded the Arts Council Award as the country’s most talented musician in 1969. Bob recorded his first LP in
Germany in 1977. Better known in his days as the “show master of Africa”, Pinodo rose to the pinnacle of his career with hit songs like “Disco Dance”, “Yesu ne m’agyenkwa”, “Love is Love”, “Girl with the guitar shape”, ”come back love”, “Africa”, “Darling” and “peep to see”, all on his “show master of Africa” album (attached). The Album released by Essiebons Ltd. in 1978, had air play on the BBC, winning best album, best composition, best production, best recording and
ultimately the album of the Millennium from the Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG) and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) respectively.

Having traveled the world over with his music, Bob believes that Europe, the United States of America, United Kingdom and the rest of the world have had a good share of his talent, and it was time to bring the rest home. For this reason Bob Pinodo came back home to Simpa and took to teaching at the University of Education, Winneba. Known in private life as Kwaku Idan, Bob has been teaching
•    How to make hits,
•    music production,
•    arrangements,
•    Dance Band Directing, and
•    Recording at the University, for ten (10) years.
The legendary musician is certain that having taught the art for a while, it was time to demonstrate what he has taught. To this end, Bob Pinodo has found the need to do a Ghana Regional tour. Prior to the tour, Bob will host a Music Education Magazine series on National
Television, GTV. The series will be aimed at training Ghanaian Musicians in the act of making their art attractive and marketable to global music markets. In these series, Bob will reveal the secrets to making international hits, and help many upcoming musicians improve if not perfect their act. The show master of Africa, who is also a choreographer, will then hit the Road to do a national tour with his “sonobete” dance.

Away from the fact that the best methodology in teaching is demonstration, Bob also believes that Ghana’s most precious natural resources are not buried in our soil, but the hearts of our people. Bob Pinodo intends to demonstrate this in the closing years of his career. Having traveled the world over with music, Bob has had extensive first-hand information on how music arts and entertainment has and continue to transform economies of nations. He cites the
British Invasion led then by “The Beatles”, in the 1960s, as a catalyst of transformation to the British Economy. The re-emergence of Bob Pinodo Music is so forth a “wake up call” on government and all stakeholders to demonstrate a commitment to transform the Ghanaian
Economy, through Music and the creative Arts. 

Article by: Adokwei Addo

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Afro-Beat, Dancehall

Europe based Dancehall artist Teddy Ziggy gets ready to release music video with Karamanti

Europe based Dancehall artist Teddy Ziggy gets ready to release music video featuring KaramantiOn her recent Euro tour, Karamanti got together with Teddy Ziggy (a Nigerian artist who is now based in Czech Republic) to shoot the video for a song they had released in the summer. The track is entitled “Stand United”, and it calls on Africans to unite regardless of color or class; and to ensure that history, specifically slavery, is not repeated. Shortly after its release, the record began to receive heavy rotation on African radio programs worldwide; so much so that it forced the executive producer to shoot the video.

Karamanti was flown into Prague City on November 14th and by the 15th she was on set with Teddy Ziggy and his team filming the video for “Stand United”. Though the official visual is not yet ready, persons can view the teaser at

; and DJs may listen and download the complete song at www.hulkshare.com/karamanti/karamanti-mks-master3

Karamanti will be in Europe this Fall (September to November) touring with Teddy Ziggy to promote both the song and video. Anyone wanting to work with her should send an email to bookings@karamantimusic.com

Afro-Beat

Oliver Mtukudzi to celebrate Zimbabwe’s Independence in Toronto (@TukuOfficial @SmallWorldNotes)

00-oliver2007_guitarbysideSmall World Music in collaboration with Koerner Hall and Batuki Music, presents Oliver Mtukudzi, and the Black Spirits with Special Guest Kinobe; on Saturday, April 18th at Koerner Hall in Toronto. The venue is located at 273 Bloor Street West.

Celebrate Zimbabwe’s Independence Day with one of Africa’s musical giants, Oliver Mtukudzi. Affectionately called “Tuku” by fans worldwide, Mtukudzi is gifted with a deep and gusty voice and a talent for writing songs that reflect on the daily life and struggles of his people.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Kinobe has been captivating audiences with virtuoso performances of Ugandan and African roots music.

Afro-Beat, Dancehall, Reggae

Puom King Ras Kuuku Prepares for SHS tour (@Raskuuku)

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Ras Kuuku

Whether for the better or worse, there is no doubt that education is the most powerful weapon of transformation to a nation. If you have been educated, at least to the secondary level in Ghana, you may acknowledge it as the truth, that what is now known as Senior High School (SHS) is a major crossroad for the youth. It has been on the political menu, the promise of free SHS; some took it for granted and till date they stand haunted, others made the most of it and today have unlocked a host of opportunities for themselves. The saying that Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom, resonates with many including Ras Kuuku and his Puom crew.

In pursuit of our mission to promote positive black music and tell the stories of the people behind them, MJ Magazine spoke to Puom Music’s C.E.O about his upcoming SHS tour.

Born Kojo Kurankye in Accra Ghana, Ras Kuuku is one of the few who took their secondary education for a gamble yet won the bet. A fast rising Reggae musician from Assin-Fosu and Assin Bosumadwe in the central Region, Ras Kuuku calls himself an African. In his words “I am a black man from Ghana in Africa, known in ancient time as Ethiopia”.”My faith is in Emperor Haile Selassie because him adi king of kings and the lord of lords … I see righteousness and light in H.I.M”.

11097019_10202758987174344_69321530_oRas Kuuku found the need to address the importance of pursuing academic excellence, and to this end the puom legend is preparing for an SHS tour, starting from his Alma mater, Nungua Preseco. In his words “Upon entry into the Senior High School you see different attitudes, some of the youth lose their focus and end up following after friends”. This he said he had fallen victim of, leading to his dismisal then from school. Growing up Ras Kuuku has learnt his lessons and find them more of the reasons to do an SHS tour. Ras Kuuku grew up in Dome, a suburb of Accra, with his brother Jah Shock who gives the outro in every Puom Music. Jah Shock attended Emmit Technical and together the duo intend to use this tour to ‘rebel’ the youth from bad to good deeds, spreading the message of Good over d’evil, irrespective of one’s faith.

Ras Kuuku’s “show them love” herein attached, http://www.reverbnation.com/raskuuku4/song/19504184-show-them-love has been nominated #VGMA15 Reggae/Dancehall song of the year; text S1 to 1767 to vote for the song. Ras Kuuku has also been nominated #VGMA15 Reggae/Dancehall artiste of the year; text G2 to 1767 to vote and to support the cause of increasing excellence in our SHSs. Email: puommusic@gmail.com to book your school.

Article by: Adokwei Addo

Afro-Beat

Gram Time Highlife Concert – 2015 (@thegbcghana)

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Ebo Taylor

The 2015 edition of Gram Time Highlife Concert will take place on Friday March 27, at Zoy Gardens; located at the forecourt of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in Accra. The concert is expected to bring back fond memories of Ghanaian highlife. A number of highlife celebrities including the showmaster of Africa, Bob Pinodo and Efua Dorkenoo are expected to grace the occasion with a showdown of skills known to have utterly delighted and captivated their audiences in Ghana and beyond, during the early 1970s.

The “Gram Library” of GBC is the largest collection of recorded music in Ghana and one of the principal archival collections in Africa. It contains thousands of gramophone records from local, and international recording companies, dating back to the 1940s.The Project to Digitise, Archive, and Safeguard the Gramophone Library of the GBC was started in October 2008. It is a joint project between GBC and the Center for World Music at the University of Hildesheim/Germany under the direction of Dr.Markus Coestner.

The concert is being sponsored by Geothe-Institut in Accra. Artistes billed to perform include The Dukes Dance Band, GBC Pacesetters Band and the legendary guitarist, Ebo Taylor. 

 Article by: Adokwei Addo

Afro-Beat

Meet Solomon Yemoh, Africa’s hardest working producer (@OdbstudioGhana)

ODB STUDIOSolomon Yemoh is an Accra-Ghana based recording engineer and producer who specializes in world music, Reggae, Dancehall, Hip Pop, R&B and African Highlife. He is a graduate of the Galaxy School of Music in Accra but he also studied mixing and mastering with Audio Master Class in the United States of America. Upon completing his studies, Solomon built his own studio called Original Dynamic Beat Studio in Accra-Ghana in 2007. While he was focused on building his studio and establishing his brand, Solomon was simultaneously recording most of the educational material for the Canadian student musicians who attended the University of Ghana (Legon) to work on their exchange program in African Music Studies.

Solomon Yemoh has done work with and for producers like Fred Bongo, Ben Jerry Telfa, Nana Danso, John Dee and several others. Additionally, he has recorded projects for some of the most respected African artists; Paa Bobo ,Uncle Ebo Tumi Ansah, King Ayisoba, Sarkodie, Adani Best, Efya, Screwface, Autentiq, Captan, Episode, Gasmilla, Keche, Eduodzi, Konfi, A1, Mac-Tee, Sam T, Santa Zion, T-blaze, Diane Buckley and many more both on and off the continent of Africa. Something that he is especially proud of is the work he did as an assistant engineer during the famous African Unit Tour by Rita Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation. He also worked for British folklore artists Chris and Lewis.

ODB LOGOThis humble engineer/producer has scored various radio and television signature tunes. He had a hand in the recording and mastering of most of the ring tones for Mobitel Communication Company and he also has various movie soundtracks.

Anyone wanting to work with Solomon regardless if it’s for bookings, voiceovers, soundtracks, mix tapes, mixing and mastering etc. simply call +233275118031 or email odbrecords@gmail.com

Afro-Beat

Tal National’s Toronto Debut Cancelled (@SmallWorldNotes)

21The most popular group in the West African country of Niger, Tal National was scheduled to make their debut in Toronto on March 29th at the Drake Hotel. Unfortunately the promoters had to cancel the show. In a story that’s become all too familiar these days, the group were unable to secure visas in time to make their tour happen.

Tal National are legendary for their unique Afro Pop parties in Nyami, with shows lasting until daylight. In a country where so few can afford instruments, let alone studio time, their first album was a revelation. Drawing on regional traditions from highlife to soukous, Afrobeat and desert blues, they upped the intensity to create what’s nothing short of African rock – a joyously hypnotic sound, with guitars dancing around deep grooves and driving percussion.

On stage Tal National performs with anywhere from six to thirteen musicians. Their concert material combines original songs with new arrangements of West African folk songs, themes of which deal with love, tolerance, peace, feminine beauty, and the woman’s physical dance expression based on traditional African rhythms.  

Afro-Beat

Nigerian artist African China drops new single called “Amen” (@African_China)

African_China_AmenAfrican China who took a break from the music industry a couple years ago released two new singles in 2014, ANU GBOKO and GHEN GHEN. Once he came back on the scene he announced that he would be releasing a new album in 2015.

He has just released his new single and if it is an indication of what is to come on the album, then it should be a good one. The track is called AMEN and African China who is known for addressing social issues affecting the country is doing just that in this song.

Listen and Download “Amen” http://www.hulkshare.com/21ppov1rd9fk

Afro-Beat

Teddy Ziggy drops new music OROBO (@teddyziggy247)

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The Nigerian artist who recently collaborated with Jamaican, Karamanti has just dropped his newest single entitled OROBO. MJ Magazine was informed that the term OROBO means fat. Apparently in the record Teddy Ziggy is simply stating his love for the more fluffy females.

The song is produced by Major P who is also behind the Karamanti collaboration. And it sounds like something that would be on repeat in any night club.

Listen: