From The Industry

Honouring a music living legend – Jay Q

From the late 1990s through to the mid-2000s one name which was almost always associated with the hit songs of the time was Jay Q.

Such was his influence on the music culture of that time that once you heard a song playing, you were always ready to scream out “Jay – Q” after the bottle-breaking sound effect.

The ace Ghanaian musician, record producer, record executive, sound engineer, songwriter and keyboardist, Jeff Tennyson Quaye (Jay Q), has recently listed over 200 hit songs he has personally produced over the years as a remembrance of his immense contribution towards developing good Ghanaian music.

As the founder and current CEO of Q-Lex Entertainment and Jay-Qlex Recording Studio, he produced albums and oversaw the careers of many musicians, including Buk Bak, VIP, Castro, Mzbel, Obrafour, Daddy Lumba, Nana Acheampong, Ofori Amponsah, Akosua Agyapong, Obuoba J. A. Adofo, Wulomei, and others.

As a producer, Jay Q is credited as a key figure in the popularization of Hiplife, Highlife, and Gospel. He introduced Jama into Hiplife, which became laudable and was accepted in Ghana, Africa and the rest of the World. In 2003, Jay Q won an award for Best Sound Engineer in Ghana.

His escapades with music began when his church, Emmanuel Assemblies Of God, sponsored his keyboard studies at the Oriental School Of Music (Adabraka, Accra).

He later joined Resurrection Power and Living Bread Ministries and met Fred Kyei Mensah (Fredyma Studio), who taught him music programming and introduced him to recording.

In the mid to late 1990s, his productions started getting airtime on radio including works with artists from diverse genres including Paapa Yaw Johnson, Alhaji K. Frimpong, George Jahraa, Adane Best, Pat Thomas, Suzzy and Matt, Jane and Dan, Wulomei, Saneko, BukBak, VIP, and Kind David.

All these productions of Jay Q in the 1990s were analog and were recorded and produced in Combined House Of Music (CHM), Accra.

In 2000, Technology was changing so fast that digital recordings were becoming popular and relegating analog recording to the back so Jay Q moved from CHM (an Analog Studio) where he used Cubase and Notator on the Atari computer to Virtual sound Lab (a fully Digital recording studio).

It was in Virtual studio that Jay Q experimented with what has made him a world phenomenon, the Jama/Kpanlogo he introduced to Hiplife with BukBak’s track, “I’m going to come”, that met so much criticism since hiplife at the time was mostly hip-hop and undefined.

The movement became so popular and uncontrollable (as other producers and engineers also got initiated into it, and gradually, music publicists and journalists saw it as the true definition of High-life.

The core of the Jama/Kpanlogo rhythm is the fusion of indigenous instruments such as the congas, cowbell, maracas, claps, whistle, brass and guitars, jembe, gome, among others.

Jay Q moved from Virtual to Hush Hush Studio in 2002 and in 2003 he won best recording engineer of the year in the Ghana music awards in Ghana and the following year in UK for the track “Ahomka Wo Mu” by VIP.

Jay Q formed a record company called Q-Lex Entertainment which he used to nature talents and executive produce them. He mostly helped these artistes with lyrics and composition.

Some of the artistes he discovered and financed their debut recordings are Castro, 4×4, Dr. Doh, etc. In January 2012, Jay Q bought Hush Hush Studio.

In 2003, he performed with BukBak at a world music festival in Gothenburg (Sweden), and they recorded some tracks there.

Sooner, Ghanaian musicians abroad started requesting his services and in 2006 to 2007, he made several appearances to the UK and recorded so many Ghanaian artistes based there, including Yoggi Doggi, Deeba, Howls of Lords amongst others.

Ghanaians in the States heard of his trips to the UK and in summer 2007, he made his first trip to the States to record musicians.

He later became a resident engineer at Kingdom studios (Chicago), which was owned by the Ghana Music Association of Chicago president Dan Boadi.

Musicians travelled from all parts of the states to Chicago and recorded with Jay Q. The Ghana musicians association of Chicago (Ghamachi) awarded Jay Q with an honorary member of the association.

In 2011, he and a friend Kay Rockks opened an entertainment company called Jay Q Entertainment in Atlanta Georgia (USA) which seeks to nurture artistes in the states and promote events.

Jay Q after spending some time in America returned home and bought the Hush Hush studio and together with the equipment he bought from the states, operates in his Q-Lex studio in Accra.

We know his works but seeing it all listed at a glance really endorsed his legendary status in the minds of all and sundry in relation to the Ghanaian music industry and its evolution.

Emmanuel Ghansah, Ghana Music

Singer, Songwriter, scriptwriter, blogger, lover of the creative arts, brands and communications expert.

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