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Music of Thursday, 10 January 2013

Source: Kendra D. CUSIC

Yaayaa's (Bertha) rise to fame

After winning ‘Best Collaboration of the Year’ for the song ‘Faithful’ at the Ghana Music Awards 2012, the ‘Stars of the Future’ winner, Bertha Bridget Kankam, is living up to her title. Music has always been a part of Kankam’s life as long as she can remember.

Listening to musical icons like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, and Aretha Franklin inspired Kankam to become a performer.

“There was always something in me that wanted to go on stage and hold a microphone. It wasn’t about recording it was about getting on stage and singing,” recalls Kankam.

As a music and theater major here at the University of Ghana, juggling her education and a blossoming music career may be stressful to some, but this talented 200 level student makes it look easy. The songstress at one point was taking theater, music, and dance courses. She eventually dropped dance to focus more on the other courses, especially acting.

At 22 years old, Bertha shares that she “would love to be an actress in the future, but I have to finish my foundation for music, then I can move on to acting.”

The Kokoben native burst on to the music scene after her win on ‘Stars of the Future’ in 2009. Rapper Okyeame Kwame noticed her talent on the show and invited Bertha to record the track ‘Faithful’. Little did she know how much of an impact the song would have on the music industry.

“We really had fun with that song, I did [Faithful] because the song was good and I love music. Nobody really knows if the song is going to be a hit or not. It depends on the listener’s ears. I never knew it would gain such notoriety,” recalls Kankam.

Bertha’s successful collaboration with Kwame led to the opportunity to team up with Hiplife rapper Sarkodie.

“I worked with Sarkodie on [‘Am I’] in 2009. It wasn’t easy to get him because even then he was still so well known. When he finally came to the studio he did it right! He’s a natural so it just went well,” she said.

Kankam wrote the concept for the song ‘Am I,’ but she admits that Sarkodie is the mastermind behind the rap lyrics in the song.

“The concept of the song ‘Am I’ came from me, but Sarkodie is the natural when it comes to that and he wrote his own rap,” she says.

This year was Bertha’s first time being nominated for not one, but two Ghana Music Awards; one for ‘Female Vocal Artist of the Year’ and the other for ‘Best Collaboration of the Year,’ the latter being the one she proudly took home.

“I was in my room with my roommate [when I found out about the nomination]. I was expecting a nomination for Okyeame Kwame, but not me,” she remembers.

“I didn’t expect to be nominated. When we heard the news my roommate started cheering and screaming and then I started screaming,” she laughs.

Kankam tried hard to maintain her emotions the night her name was called to receive her first GMA.

“I was speechless like I am now,” she says as she lets out a small chuckle. There were very good people in that category so I wasn’t expecting to win. When I heard my name I was crying and shaking, I just had to hold it all together because of the cameras,” she laughs.”

The soul singer has accomplished so much in her short career span and surprisingly has yet to put out her own album. She shared her plans to release a well anticipated solo album in the coming year.

“I released a song on my birthday, January 25th of this year, called ‘Kae.’ We’re about to release a video for the song. As soon as we release the video maybe in a week’s time, we’re going to release a new single and that’s one great song!” she says with excitement.

Bertha wouldn’t dish out any more details about her upcoming single, but she reassures that the song is almost done.

“By next year, my solo album will be out,” she says with a huge smile.

The multitalented singer not only has an exceptional talent that can guarantee a chart topping hit, but she has also mastered both the piano and the guitar. Clearly, making her a force to be reckoned with in the near future.

“By five years time, I want to be beyond the continent of Africa. I want to grab people’s attention with my music,” she says with an air of confidence, “They haven’t seen anything yet, the sky’s the limit.”

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