Music of Sunday, 29 May 2005


The Man Ben Brako

Born in Accra, Ghana on 20th May, 1952 Ben Brako took an active interest in the music and entertainment world at a very young age. "I 1st started to perform in front of live audiences at St. John's Preparatory and Primary School round about 1960 and I have been performing ever since..."

In an era where many of his musical peers either dropped out of school to pursue their dreams of becoming professional musicians, or gave up music in favour of other careers, Ben Brako made the unique decision? to continue his education while simultaneously remaining a performing high-life artist.

This did not hamper his ambitions. On the contrary it give him a unique perspective and audience. "My love of music did not stop me from continuing my education, in fact it gave me a unique perspective and a great platform to perform for my academic peers and also perfect myself as a high-life musician"

Ben Brako's love of singing took a serious turn when he was invited to be the lead singer in the new music group being formed at his secondary school, St. Augustine's college, in Cape Coast. This group was named The Flames, and became the first group in Ghana to use a melodica. Other members of the group were Patrick Kodwiw, Henry Mensah-Brown, Augustine Owusu, Francis Baffour, and Reginald Sawyer. Bella Yanney become an associate member of the group.

This group was so successful that it was instantly accepted and embraced by the public at large, when they decided to play for money during the holidays. The Flames played at famous venues such as Tip Toe in Accra, Copa Cabana in Cape coast, Corousel in Takoradi Hotel Amercana and Hotel De Kingsway in Kumasi, among many others.

The Flames played with other famous bands and groups that were popular in that era in Ghana. These groups included the El Pollos with the Todd brothers, K Gyasi's band featuring Ernest Honney, Smart Apeh's band, The Millionaires, featuring Pe Pe Dynamite, The Black Santiago's, featuring The late Awudzi Amo, among many others.

Whilst still in University Of Ghana Ben formed a group to test out his own music. This group was called Agromba Gudureba. Other members of this group were, Agbo Ayee, Victor Alhassan, Atongo Afrani and Shoo Lele. Needless to say this very short lived group proved its point and was very successful.

After graduating fro the University of Ghana? Ben become a teacher at Achimota? School. From there he worked with Alpha (W.A.) Lines ltd In Tema, as their Commercial manager. He also worked with Kwaw Ansah in Film Africa ltd. He later formed his own consultancy dealing with the booking of cargo for ships, international money recovery and import and export trade.

Ben Brako holds a BA (HONS) in agricultural Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon (1975) and BA (HONS) Media Communication Studies from East London University (1994). With such a rich academic background it is no wonder that his??? musical talents stand out. His debut album 'Baya' brought his talents to the attention of the nation and African music lovers world wide.

Baya (released in 1987) went on to win The Leisure Foundation Album of The Year 1987, and Musician of the year 1987, and also received Gold status in 1988. He was rewarded further for his musical talent by wining the? ECRAG Mahogany award for consistency in highlife music in 1989. This coincided with the release of Ben's 2nd album Everybody.

Ben Brako has toured and performed in many cities world wide including London, Nottingham, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Toronto, New York, Washington DC, Connecticut, Malmo, to mention a few. He has played and recorded with many of the top Ghanaian and African musicians, including Jon K, Kwame Yeboah, Dave Yowell, Alfred Bannerman, Paul Greenstein, C.K. Mann, Pat Thomas, Bessa Simons, A. B. Crentsil, Enox Edu, Nana Tsiboe, Victor Mensah, Pauina Oduro and Billie, Eaaron Quarcoe, Byron Bird of IBM studios, Emanuel Rentsos, Spankys (Yeeram Hossoo), Kodjho Acquai, Okyerema Asante and Stephanie Luster amongst many many others.

Ben is still a performer to this very day and also gone on the release 2 more albums. He will always be regarded as one of the pioneers of modern highlife as we know it and indeed one of the forefathers of popular Ghanaian cultural music. He is credited with bringing highlife music into the modern age, and to the attention of the educated and westernized youth who hitherto had viewed highlife as too native and inaccessible.