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Entertainment of Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Source: GNA

Nana Ampadu: The trailblazer who ‘revolutionized’ Highlife music goes home

Nana Kwame Ampadu Nana Kwame Ampadu

From ashes to ashes, from dust to dust, one of Ghana's renowned Highlife guitarists, Nana Kwame Ampadu, joins his ancestors this coming weekend but his immortality in the annals of Ghana's music is assured.

Nana Ampadu's legacy in Ghana's music industry certainly stands out, making him a trailblazer of the second wave of highlife as he reigned for years, considering his unique style of doing music.

Highlife music gained momentum in the post Second World War era with the likes of Ramblers, E.T. Mensah, Onyina championing the genre which was associated with the upper class hence the name Highlife. But the young man from Obo Kwahu introduced his own ideas wrapped around folklore and tales of the common people and gave highlife a mass appeal as he dazzled on the strings and fretboard.

 President of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), Mr Bessa Simons eulogised Nana Ampadu as a musician who introduced his own brand of Highlife and that his lyrical content was basically about Ghanaian culture.

 "His music was full of encouragement, also telling people about social life, in a story form. He is this musician who has so many stories to tell about any occasion. He is someone that we all admired from a very young age," Mr Bessa told GNA Entertainment.

He revealed some secrets that Nana Ampadu shared with him back in the days which enhanced his own music career.

"I remember in my school days, we came to Accra as a School Band to rehearse so that we can go to Anansekrom for one of the school’s band competitions.

 "We went to his house at Kokomlemle, and he gave us his instruments for us to rehearse with and then we went to play and subsequently won. I told him about it sometime ago and when he remembered it was so exciting. One exciting thing about Nana Ampadu is wherever we go with him, he has a story to suit the occasion," the MUSIGA President noted.

Mr. Bessa added that Nana Ampadu dedicated his entire life for the betterment of the music and was one of the originators of our music copyright.

He noted that Nana Ampadu who was once a General Secretary for MUSIGA played a crucial role in the establishment of the music association and his contribution to the body was overwhelming.

Another Ghanaian music great, Ackah Blay said Nana Ampadu should be remembered in the history of Ghanaian music for churning out fascinating music story lines which sought to guide human behaviour and provide good advice in our social lives.

Ackah Blay shared an exciting moment with Nana Ampadu saying: "The first time I visited Nana, I played “Amponsah” and he said no Ackah, this “Amponsah” is good but try this one, and really I saw the difference between him playing and me playing. He is one man who never hesitated to advise anyone who visited him, that’s what I remember about him."

Highlife music in the 1900's played a significant role in shaping the political thought and the general landscape and Nana Ampadu did make an impact with his music especially in the 1967 where his song, "Ebi Te Yie," to wit, “Some are living well,” became the talk of the town, addressing issues of poverty. Ghana was facing an economic meltdown and as usual he sang for the poor. He certainly courted the displeasure of the then ruling military junta.

Legendary Ghanaian musician Gyedu Blay Ambolley said Nana Ampadu's music did contribute to political conversation thus addressing issues that affected the masses which caught the attention of the Government especially with his “Ebi Te Yie song.

"I think the late Nana Ampadu is an icon, when you talk about music back in the 60’s he made so many records, he had his band, he was touring and all that and if you really listen to his music, the lyrics are very important because they conveyed messages about humanity, life and the do’s and don’ts of life. These are things that music is used for." Ambulley asserted.

"Nana Ampadu is an outstanding musician that has been able to contribute so well to the growth of music in Ghana. 

"He has passed away but his lyrics and music will always stay behind and enlighten the new and up and coming ones to know those that have already contributed so well in the formations and contributions of music." Ambulley said, paying a glowing tribute to the musical icon.

Another Highlife Stalwart Amandzeba Nat Brew said Nana Ampadu was certainly a trailblazer of Highlife music having made guitar band music in Africa and around the world 

"Nana Kwame Ampadu is one of the iconic revelations we have ever had in this country amongst quite a number of people. He featured prominently on the guitar band space and made guitar band music very well-known across Africa and beyond.

"A gap like that cannot be filled, it is a huge responsibility for anybody to attempt to fill this position but I think that one thing that wipes our sorrows away as he passed is that we are living and listening to his music.

“Every day you can hear some of the things Nana Kwame Ampadu recorded. Technology has actually saved us from, complete memory wipe, we will always have him in mind, if we don’t see him, we can hear him." Amanzeba said.

He prayed that Nana Ampa du would be given a befitting departure ahead of his burial.

"He is such an iconic figure, he’s irreplaceable. We will all pass on so he should prepare a place for us so that when we get there we will continue with the music.” 

The late Nana Ampadu was admired as a master lyricist for great compositions including Getty, Oman Bo Adwo, Kofi Nkrabea, Yaw Berko, Obra, Agartha and Obi Benya Wo.

Nana Ampadu’s career saw him travel around the world, sharing and displaying Ghanaian culture and music. In 2015, he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 16th Vodafone Ghana Music Awards. In 2017, he was among five Highlife artistes honoured at the MUSIGA Grand Ball. The real honour lies in the hearts of Ghanaians whose gratitude for the legend will never wane.

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