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    2008: The year music flirted with politics

    by Daily Graphic
    posted Sunday, 04 January 2009 14:16| 0 Comments

    Photo: Ghana Music.comAn issue that raised acrimonious debate in several circles in the course of last year was the open flirtation between musicians and politicians as the electioneering saw musicians come out to mount platforms and declare support for politicians.

    Though all individuals have the right to drift to whichever political direction they choose, many regard musicians as belonging to the society and they must not therefore openly canvass for any party.

    Whether the frantic, open leaning towards specific parties stands to benefit the music business in the long run or not would hopefully begin to manifest when the new government is sworn into office.

    Many observers regarded it as good news when the Musicians Union of Ghana announced around June that it was working out modalities for musicians to get standardised rates for musicians’ work. Sadly, the year has ended and nothing concrete has been heard from the union again regarding that laudable move. Maybe next year will bring some good tidings in that direction.

    Even though no conclusions were reached about rates for the various forms of services from musicians, several of them gladly hit the road and campaigned for peaceful elections for no monetary consideration. Others contributed to recordings and charged nothing, all in the name of peace. Big ups to them.

    The state in July saw the need to award some musicians for their contribution to cultural progress. Eyebrows were raised over some of the names included in the honours list but Christie Love, Elder Mireku, Nii Tei Ashitey, Amy Newman, Obuor, J.A. Adofo, Asabea Cropper Efua Dorkenoo and others still received their ‘priceless’ awards.

    Though Praye’s Angelina from their Roll Koll ’08 album was not at the top of the Megahits-Ghana music chart by the end of 2008, it was the song being pumped hard in the clubs and eveywhere. The song has so far been very well received wherever the trio has performed it.
    Praye, from all indications, sold the album and all rights associated with it outright to footballer Prince Tagoe’s Goals Multimedia.

    The going is sometimes quite tough for some of the artistes and they would not let an opportunity for a one-off lump sum payment pass by. Problems sometimes arise out of that sort of arrangement and one hopes Praye carefully pondered over all the implications before commiting to the deal.

    Artiste management is still a big flaw on the music scene and is partly the reason for many musicians only living off not-well-negotiated proceeds from live appearances. Praye is now under the management of EKB Records and may hopefully benefit from the expertise that has turned Becca into one of the best-managed artistes on the scene.

    Some names, including George Forrest and Nacy, entrenched themselves on the scene and recorded some of the very popular albums in the year.

    Music fans here had the opportunity to see some foreign acts, some of whom were truly impressive. Meiway from Cote d’Ivoire was, as usual, at his active best during the One Touch Africa Speaks concert at the National Theatre, one of the shows that heralded the 26th Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Ghana 2008 soccer tournament.

    The Go Africa concert at the Independence Square was one such show and Steel Pulse, Blu 3, 2Face and Orentchy were there. Dobet Gnahore from Cote d’ Ivoire came back, after a show last year, to sing, dance and play her variety of instruments again at the Alliance Francaise in February at Alliance Francaise.

    Veteran saxophonist Manu Dibango led an awakening Camerounian invasion to showcase arts from his country before the Ghana 2008 soccer fiesta.

    Tcheka Longi (Cape Verde), Gaye Adegbalola, Ja Rule, Native Vibe and Vinx (United States), Habib Koite and Basekkou Kouyate (Mali) and Richard Bona (Cameroun) were some of the acts that had successful appearances here.

    Wyclef Jean, Mario, Eve and 2Face’s Zain-supported show at the Ohene-Djan Stadium, handled by a South African company, did not go as well as expected. The failure reminded Zain that there are competent event organisers in this country, making them fall on Entertainment Revolution for a smooth corporate launch bash.

    Flutist Dela Botri and his Hewale Sounds did a successful tour of West Africa, sponsored by the French Embassy here and the Alliance Francaise. The group was also in Egypt and they are proving to be one of the most exportable commodities freom this country.

    Hiplife songstress Mzbel was lost in action for a while because she was away in the United States but that was not before she had ruffled a few feathers regarding the Ghana Music Awards (GMA).

    She said she was not interested in being part of the yearly process of nominations and awards because she had nothing to show for all the previous times that she had been nominated.Well, the organisers had no choice but to respect her wish.

    The Ghana Association of Phonographic Industry,(GAPI) also protested over unfair treatment by the organisers and urged the artistes in their stables to boycott the awards ceremony.

    Ohemaa Mercy, who is on the Big Ben label, was therefore not present when she was called for the Gospel Artiste of the Year, Gospel Album of the Year and Album of the Year awards.

    Perhaps the other striking thing about the GMA was that award winners for the first time had some money in addition to their plaques. Each winner had Gh¢1000 while the Artiste of the Year winner pocketed Gh3,000.

    Several musicians from across the continent auditioned for Berklee College of Music’s newly- created African Scholars Programme that has a full-ride four-year scholarship for an African student. Berklee is the world’s leading institution for the study of contemporary music and Victor ‘Blue’ Dogah from Ghana became the lucky first recipient of the $40,000 per year scholarship.

    Notable artistes that put out new material in 2008 included Samini (Dagaati), Lord Kenya (God Dey), King David (Born To Win),Wutah (Burning Desire) 5Five (Adabraka), Ayisoba (Africa), Atongo (Barefoot In The Sand) Tinny (Kaa Bu Ame) and Blakk Rasta (Naked Wire) Joshua Kwame Asiedu, better known as Big Joe, was one of the notable personalities in music who died in the course of the year. He owned Nakasi Records and produced albums for Lee Duodu, Pat Thomas, Jewel Ackah, George Darko and others. A former percussionist, Big Joe’s funeral drew several musicians to Larteh in the Eastern Region.

    Other musicians who passed away in 2008 included singer Michael Dwamena, producer Faisal Helwani and South Africa-based saxophonist George Lee. He was little known in Ghana but made a big impact on music in Southern Africa where he lived for many years.

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