Ghanaian Musical Talent Missing at Coachella
Coachella is considered one of the most prestigious US music festivals. Already there are several Ghanaian artists including FOKN Bois (Wanlov and M3nsa), Rocky Dawuni, M.anifest, Efya, Stonebwoy, Wiyaala, Atongo, Ambolley, King Ayisoba and others playing at international gigs (not concerts put together by Ghanaians or Africans abroad). So why wasn’t there any Ghanaian on the lineup, and how are artists even selected for the most recent Coachella? This story by a recent Coachella attendee sheds some light on subject.
EfyaSinger/songwriter, Efya for many years was the standout female performer in Ghana, after her appearance on a singing competition reality TV show. Having won the Ghana Music Awards nod for Best Female Vocal Performance in succession from 2011 to 2014, Efya is loved for unique and strong vocal dexterity, both as a recording artist and a performer. Her debut mixtape T.I.N.T. was released in 2013, comprising songs that were released between 2011 and 2013, supported by two new hit singles “Getaway” and “Best In Me”. Efya then released her long-awaited debut studio album ‘Janesis’ in 2016. “Forgetting Me” the album’s lead single, was a smash hit as well. Efya’s vocals have been heard on many hit songs including ‘Skin Tight’ with Mr Eazi, ‘Daddy Yo’ with Wizkid among others. Her award wins and nominations include Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television & Arts Awards (BEFFTA), All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), MTV Africa Music Award (MAMA), World Music Awards and more. Efya’s live performances are amongst the most-loved in Africa. She has performed on several international stages such as Gidi Culture Festival (Gidifest) and SXSW. She has headlined the annual ‘Girl Talk’ concert since 2015 and improved year after year.
WiyaalaWiyaala is an Afro pop singer-songwriter who sings in her native language Sissala and Waale dialects and English, often combining all three languages within her songs. Like her name, which means ‘the doer’ in the Sissala dialect, Wiyaala has proven that anything she sets her mind to, she can do it. She first attained public renown with her single “Make Me Dance” and her androgynous image, after winning a singing contest reality TV show with her group, Black N Peach. She established a solo career in 2013 with the hit single “Rock My Body”, which won her two awards at the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA). Her music style has been described as Afro-pop or Afro-rock with elements of tribal folk music. She released her official debut album in 2015, eponymously titled “Wiyaala”. Her single “Go Go Black Stars…Goal!” featuring tribal drums and stadium choruses, was picked up as the unofficial hymn of the national football team of Ghana for the 2014 World Cup. Wiyaala headlined the 15th London African Music Festival and has also performed on several international stages including Africa Centre Summer Festival, The Hague African Festival, The New World Passover Festival in Dimona, Israel, the WOMAD UK International Arts Festival, the Timitar Festival in Agadir, Morocco, and many more. In 2016, Wiyaala successfully established her Djimba World Festival, an annual music festival to shine the light on talent from the Upper West Region. It’s counter-intuitive initiatives like these that are contributing to Wiyaala’s ever-growing worldwide popularity. It was no surprise when the BBC named Wiyaala as one of their “Celebrated African Women” of 2018.
SaminiSamini may not have a lot of experience with international festivals (he has been announced for Upstream Music Festival (Seattle) and Bob Marley Fest (Atlanta) in the past, but he never got to make these appearances), but remains one of Ghana’s most consummate performers. With strong vocals, and masterful ability to do reggae, afrobeats, dancehall and more, he would surely move any crowd at Coachella. Samini (formerly known as Batman) is known for his melodious mixture of highlife, dancehall, reggae and hip-hop. He terms his brand of music as the “African dancehall”. He has released seven very successful studio albums, after his debut album, ‘Dankwasere’, was released in 2004. The debut album topped music charts for weeks and won two awards at the Ghana Music Awards. Samini has performed alongside Sean Paul, Akon, Kevin Little, Shaggy, Wayne Wonder, Damian Marley, Bennie Man, Jay-Z, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Culture (Joseph Hill) and Steel Pulse. He has collaborated with Steel Pulse and Etana from Jamaica. He received international recognition when he won the “Best African Act” at the 2006 MOBO Awards. He was nominated at the MTV Europe Music Awards 2006 for Best African Act. In 2009, he won Best Performer at the MTV Africa Music Awards. His self-titled album, ‘Samini’ won him 3 Ghana Music Awards. His 7th studio album, ‘Untamed’ was voted the Reggaeville 2018 Album of the Year. Samini launched his annual Saminifest Concert in 2014 and has been consistent with it till date.
M.anifestIf I were to choose a Ghanaian rapper who would fit into Coachella, it would be M.anifest, because his style of rap and his brand would make festivalgoers stop and listen! The award-winning artist combines traditional African sounds with hip hop sensibilities like no other. M.anifest released his first solo album, ‘Manifestations’, which earned him Songwriter of the year Honors in the City Pages as well as top five albums of the year recognition in the Star Tribune. He joined Africa Express in 2010 to play gigs in France and Spain, which caught the attention of Africa Express co-founder Damon Albarn, who thereafter invited M.anifest to be a collaborator on Rocket Juice & the Moon in 2011. In 2011, he released his sophomore album ‘Immigrant Chronicles: Coming to America’ to mark a decade of his life in the U.S. and the beginning of his transition back to Ghana and indeed Africa. The album included the hit singles “Suffer”, “Asa” and “Blue (Chale What Dey Happen)”. M.anifest represented Africa at the 2017 Cannes International Music Festival and took part in the Midem Artist Accelerator 360 programme and won the Midem Best Artist nod. He has also performed at the Swizz festival Musiques en été’ in Geneva, the Harare International Festival Of The Arts, Lake of Stars Glasgow, and the Commonwealth Games’ ‘Festival 2018’. He also has an annual festival called ‘Manifestations’ in Ghana.
StonebwoyPerhaps Ghana’s current biggest commercial music export, afropop, dancehall and reggae artist, Stonebwoy continues to excel in many diverse ways. He is a consummate recording and performing artist, known to excite crowds with his vocals and energy. In 2015, Stonebwoy won the BET Award for Best International Act: Africa and in 2018 he was nominated again for it. He has also been nominated for MTV Africa Music Award in once shortlisted for MTV Europe Music Awards. His 2014 album, ‘Necessary Evil’, which consisted of twenty-nine tracks won Stonebwoy three Ghana Music Awards. His 2017 album, ‘Epistles of Mama’, which was dedicated his late mother had 24 track featuring Sean Paul, King Promise, Burna Boy and more. The album peaked at Number 13 on the Billboard World Album Chart. YouTube honored the Album for hitting over 10 million views. Stonebwoy has performed at several international festivals such as Reggae Geel 2018, Reggae Sumfest 2018 (Montego Bay, Jamaica), Summerjam Festival (Cologne, Germany), and the Bomboclat Festival (Belgium). In 2019, Stonebwoy was part of the Africa To The World 3-day showcase at SXSW in Austin, Texas. He won the nod for ‘Favourite African Star’ at the at the 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice, and has has since collaborated with more international acts including Beenieman for his current single, ‘Shuga’. Stonebwoy has two annual concerts in Ghana ‘ATTW’ a free concert and ‘Bhim Concert’, a paid to attend show. With the world now paying attention to African music, hopefully any of these 5 and indeed any other Ghanaian musician would perform on the stage of a grand international music festival such as Coachella in the very near future.
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