One of Ghana’s heritage when it comes to guitar and high life music is the legend Ackah Blay. He has over the past years followed the trend and business of what he loves most and today has noticed some few things in the high life genre and the music industry entirely which needs immediate attention.
Highlife Artistes and Live Band Highlife artistes, according to Ackah, do not want to perform with live band whenever they are billed to perform. They prefer miming to the use of live instruments which he says is no different from a patron sitting at home to listen to the song being played on radio.
He said if one aims at becoming a highlife artiste then there will be the need to learn as well as to plan performances with a live band and also put into the performance, arrangements to have a solid performance so when you are paid, you are paid well. Live band also paves way for international fronts to come ahead to invest into what we do and as part of it, highlife artistes, could be billed for international gigs as well as world tours.
Highlife Lyrics Majority of artistes in Ghana fear to venture into highlife music for they claim the genre is much of a load which include good lyrics and arrangement together with proverbial words and expensive beats in order to have a better final product. But Ackah Blay disagrees very much with this statement as he says the artistes are rather being ignorant and lazy.
“Yes, there are words that can’t be said in highlife music but it depends on how one says them so it doesn’t become sour. Good highlife music needs a lot of arrangements and good lyrics. It isn’t for an already programmed beat which one goes about spewing meaningless words on four bars and it’s done. It needs good guitarist and bassist as part of instrumentation as well as time. Some people in about three months have almost four songs running in the system but highlife needs ample time to complete so it lasts for decades. Just as it was for the Amponsah and Yamoah’s Serwaa Akoto, which although cannot be found on the internet but whenever it’s played. This is to say that, if you take your time in doing something you get the due and proper benefits deserved,” he said.
Highlife in Twi The legend has scrapped the thought of many who believe highlife could only be done in Twi. He says language shouldn’t be a barrier for anyone who is ready to do highlife because highlife is a rhythm which any language could ride on. He pointed out that, all his songs are done in Nzema or at times broken English and thus never compulsory to get your songs done in Twi.
“Take a look at both Wiyaala and Ayisoba from the North, they do highlife music but isn’t done in Twi? Paul Simons also arrived here to do highlife but he never did it in Twi. Whatever language you’re comfortable in, just flow in it,” he added.
Vodafone Ghana Music Awards (VGMA) A child learns from what he sees than what he hears because they think what is seen is the best. The awards scheme rewards hip life and hip hop artistes as the overall artistes of the year. This act Ackah says compels the youth into more hip life than the latter because that is where they feel is recognized.
“No highlife artiste has been recognized as the best artiste and this goes a long way in harming the younger generations. If once in a while high life artistes are also awarded as the best, then the young ones will follow up,” Ackay Blay said.
Radio and Television Ackah entreats all the media outlets especially with radio and TV to play more of Ghanaian songs for the rising generation and foreigners to see more of our content and cultures so they can buy into it. He says if government could at least make laws for the media to talk about 90% Ghanaian music, we will be able to preserve our cultures and then again, foreigners will buy into it which will boost the industry with lots of money.
Performance Venue The music industry has no venue to perform. There are just two of these venues in the whole of Accra – National Theatre and the Conference Center. When we talk of music it isn’t all about Accra and Kumasi but there are other good musicians in Sunyani, Koforidua and other regions that lack recognition due to no place of performance. If the government could build venues at the district and regional capitals with better equipment and able men to manage the place so musicians could perform from Wednesday to Sundays, they will understand to pay tax because they have worked.
Source: Flex Newspaper