HIGHLIFE; THE PULSE OF GHANA MUSIC
Highlife is a genre of music started by seasoned Ghanaian musicians in the 20th Century. It is derived from a traditional Akan music and remains a very important aspect of the African music scene. Though the contemporary Ghanaian music has taken a different turn altogether, there still remain vital elements of a typical highlife music complementing this new form of Ghanaian music.
When it first emerged in Gold Coast, during the colonial era, highlife was known for incorporating element of foreign guitar, existing brass-band and other traditional percussions creating layers of sound that mainly depict the components of a typical traditional Akan music. The name, highlife, which was later associated with this form of music was as a result of the fact that it was performed to the colonial aristocrats at exclusive clubs along the coasts. Most indigents of the then gold coast did not have the wealth and the social status to enter these concert venues hence the name ‘highlife’.https://mcakoronline.com
After the Second World War, highlife music, which was in two forms and styles: the dance band and the guitar band, gained its popularity in Ghana and parts of her neighbouring countries. The guitar band highlife music was widely patronized within the rural parts of the country. This is because music within these rural areas is mainly dominated by string instruments which are major components of the guitar band highlife music. One of the figure heads of the guitar band highlife music and has released over 400 records was E.K Nyame and the Akan Trio.
Unlike the guitar band, the urban areas of the country were dominated by the dance band highlife music. Large orchestras were formed in the urban areas by the Ghanaian indigents to replace the foreign band which later left the country after the Second World War. This form of highlife music was best represented by the legendary E.T Mensah and the Tempos. Mensah was later referred to as the king of highlife music after his outstanding performance with Louis Armstrong, the American composer, vocalist and trumpeter, in 1956.
Decades after the advent of technology and the world becoming more a global village, Ghanaian highlife music was revisited and contained the electric guitar bands and pop music from Europe and America. By 1971, the typical Ghanaian highlife music came to an end and made way for the soul-to-soul genre of music. The performance of soul-to-soul music in Ghana by both popular African and American musicians rejuvenated the energy in the typical Ghanaian music years later. New guitar bands were formed as a result of the new energy that was brought into the Ghanaian music scene. Bands like Nana Ampadu and the African Brothers were created and renewed efforts were led by youths to stage a cultural revival within the music sector. George Darko, the pioneer of burger highlife and the likes of Fela Kuti of Nigeria also adopted the highlife music in their great works.
However, globalization and improvement in technologies have played a major role in the dynamisms of the 21st century Ghanaian music. http://www.conveygh.com
Currently, the Ghanaian music is characterized by the filters of the American and the European element. The works of rappers like Okyeame Kwame and Sarkodie as well dancehall and reggae artists such as Samini, Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale, among others are the dominants of a different dimension of Ghanaian music.