You are here: HomeCountryPeopleMusicGyedu Blay Ambolley

Ghana Famous People


Gyedu-Blay Ambolley

Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Sekondi, Takoradi

Gyedu-Blay Ambolley was born in the port city of Sekondi-Takoradi. The multi-talented and internationally celebrated musician has decades of experience under his belt. He is a versatile and irrepressible singer/songwriter/producer, who is credited by some to be the originator of afro rap. He exploded on the music scene with jazzy highlife sounds called Simigwa-Do.

His interest in music dates back to age eight when he began playing with his father's flute until he was able to teach himself how to play. His formal musical training came at the age of fourteen. The young music enthusiast continued to learn the rudiments of music from the late Sammy Lartey and Ebo Taylor.

Ambolley spent a great part of his day listening to records of musicians living in the United States. He contributes his freestyle singing to such mentors as James Brown, Ray Charles, and Sam Cook.

During the sixties, the young aspiring musician was excitingly impressed with the music she heard on the popular radio show, "Voice of America Jazz Hour. His name has become synonymous with Simigwa music and dance since his first hit single was released in 1973.

Since that hit, he has led many bands including his own in 1979-80. His talent was not limited to Ghana; he was invited to London where he performed to standing room only crowds. Having experienced success in his own country, as well as London, it was time for the ambitious musician to test his musical abilities elsewhere.

In 1988, Ambolley left Ghana for New York. Ambolley has toured throughout West Africa, Europe, Canada, and the United States. He has performed on the same stage with some of the world's most celebrated artists, such as Miriam Makeba, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, George Howard, Angela Bofill, Norman Connors, Manu DeBango, Lakeside, Chikuzan Takahashi, Ricardo Estrada of Cuba, Mayuto Correa of Brazil. He also toured Ghana with Oscar Brashear and Michael Session.

Because of his originality, his performances have left audiences raving and shouting for more, as was the case at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. He has played the House of Blues in Hollywood, is a frequent performer at the Jazz Bakery in California, and has played to "standing room only" crowds in London, England.

Ambolley has over 17 albums to his credit and has received numerous musical awards. In October of 2003, he was prestigiously recognized for his commitment to his musical craft with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" by Jazz at Drew from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles.

Additionally he received a Congressional, Gubernatorial Certificate of Special Recognition by Congresswoman Juanita Millinder McDonald. Also, L.A.Weekly nominated Ambolley for Best World Beat Recombinant Artists in 2003. In 2007, he released a 14-track album, The Next Generation, after a 17-year hiatus.

It featured remixes of his old hits as well as some new songs. He has been crowned Simigwahene by the Omanhene of Esekado Traditional Area, Nana Kwabena Nketia.


Best World Beat Recombinant Artist 2003 & Best World Beat Recombinant Artist 2003 L.A. Weekly nominated Ambolley for Best World Beat Recombinant Artist in 2003 and 2004

Most Consistent Artist — Ghana (1980)

Album and Song of the Year — Ghana (1990)

Trend Music Awards — Ivory Coast (1997)

Africa-American History Award — MWEPC, Los Angeles, CA (2001)

Afrikan Music Award — Los Angeles, CA (2002)

Malcom X Music Festival Award — Los Angeles, CA (2002)

Lifetime Achievement Award — The Jazz at Drew from Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles, CA (2003)

Congressional, Gubernatorial Certificate of Special Recognition — Congresswoman Juanita Millinder McDonald (2003)