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Entertainment of Saturday, 3 April 2004

Source: Francis Doku

Gospel Music In Review

The gospel music industry in Ghana has been growing in a rather tremendous manner even to the extent that there is an annual event during which practitioners as well as ancillary individuals and organisations are rewarded.

To stress the importance that this music form occupies in the country, one would like to say that gospel is the only music form that has special awards night instituted for it in the name of the Gospel Music Awards. To say that a great number of Ghanaians love gospel music would be stating the obvious.

There are people in the industry who have committed themselves to putting figures to the perception. I listened to a radio discussion on Channel R (this is an Accra-based radio station that is dedicated to the playing of gospel music and discussion of gospel programmes) not quite long ago and some prominent people in the industry were reviewing some statistics on the performance of gospel music in Ghana.

The statistics were prepared by Stanley Nyame a.k.a. DJ Abio who happens to be the presenter of Kente Rhythms, SPAB Gospel Chart and other programmes on Channel R. I thought the information was an in-depth analyses of the performance of the gospel music industry and therefore decided to replicate it in print for a better perusal.

According to the figures arrived at by DJ Abio, the total number of gospel albums released in the year 2003 were 204 as against 215 in the year 2002. This was made up of 54 by female artistes, 110 by male performers and 40 by groups. The report indicates that there were eight male groups, four female groups and twenty eight male/female groups.

New artistes formed the highest number of those who released albums in the year. Artistes in this category came out with a total of 136 or 66.67 per cent of the total number with old artistes releasing the remaining 68 or 33.33 per cent. This seemed to have followed the trend of the previous year where the total of 215 releases were made up of 142 new and 73 old performers respectively.

The report shows that there were more new female artistes than new male artistes; of the total number of new artistes, the female singers added up to 71 as against 44 by the male artistes.Accra topped the regional distribution of releases with an overwhelming 142, which represents about 69.61 per cent of the total releases.

Kumasi follows with 36, Tema had six, Koforidua and Takoradi registered three each, Obuasi and Nsawam had two each, Swedru, Asamankese and Winneba had one each and 17 were released by Ghanaian musicians living outside the country.The report also captured the monthly distribution of releases. The month of November topped the releases with 23, followed by February, March, October with 22, June had 17, September had 16, August had 14, January, April, May and December each had 12 and July had 10 releases.

DJ Abio?s report indicates that only 53 out of the total 204 releases made hits. He describes a hit song as one that sold over 5000 copies and extensive airplay. This represents about 26 per cent of the total number of songs released.On that same tack, the report reveals that 19 songs or 50 per cent of the total releases from Kumasi became hits as against 23 songs or 16.2 per cent of the total releases from Accra making hits.

A total number of 110 artistes were privileged to have executive producers leaving the rest of the 94 performers to struggle on their own. Fifty-six new artistes had producers and so did 53 old artistes. The report, which was compiled for Abodwese Consultancy, indicates that the year 2003 did not see as many releases as did the previous year and it also had less hit songs than the year 2002.