Ghanaian traditional music legendary Obo Addy was born January 15, 1936 and September 13, 2012. he was a Ghanaian drummer and dancer who was one of the first native African musicians to bring the fusion of traditional folk music and Western pop music known as worldbeat to Europe and then to the Pacific Northwest of the United States in the late 1970s. He was a music tutor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon.
Addy was born in Accra as part Of the Ga Ethnic group. Ga’s are found in the capital city of Ghana thus Accra. He was born to a medicine man known in Ga as ‘Wonche” who employed the use of music into healing and rituals. He was born into a large family with 54 siblings. Addy was exposed in his formative years to the traditional music of his people. The Wulomei of the Gas are music group entailing medicine men who sung with traditional instruments. Growing up he learned to love popular music from Europe and the United States, and performed in local bands that played Westernized music and the dance music of Ghana known as high-life.
Obo was employed by the Arts Council of Ghana in 1969, and played his native Ga traditional music in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. He moved to London, England, and began touring in Europe. In 1978, he moved to Portland, Oregon in the United States, where he taught at Lewis & Clark College. He also led weekly drumming workshops at Portland’s Lincoln High School. After a long battle with liver cancer, Addy died on September 13, 2012.
Some achievements of Addy is he founded the Homowo African Arts and Cultures organization, which sponsors the annual Homowo Festival of African Arts in Oregon. He was awarded a Master’s Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission and Regional Arts & Culture Council, and the Oregon Governors Award for the Arts. In 1996, he became the first native African to win a National Heritage Fellowship Award from Federal government of the United States’ National Endowment for the Arts.