Ghana is blessed with many musical talents and some of these creative minds and gifted voices are capable of competing with international acts, but for some reasons, they have been stuck in the Ghanaian music industry with no global breakthrough. Some of these notable talents, though comfortable in their local music industry, are being limited by 2 major factors namely ‘language’ and ‘music genre’. Adina, Efya, MzVee, Feli Nuna, Nana Yaa and EL are some of the obvious names that come to mind when it comes to local talents that have a global appeal.
The perception that an African artiste born on African soil cannot achieve international fame and success has been debunked since Nigerian act ‘Wizkid’ collaborated with American musician ‘Drake’ and sprung a global hit that lasted a significant amount of time on the BillBoard Top 100 songs. But Ghanaian musicians may still be living in the shadows of the past as they fight for ‘scraps’ when they can be dining with Kings. Singer Efya, early this year, had a concert in China were she performed to a global community. She has entertained the reserved class of expatriates in Accra who normally wouldn’t pay to see some of the main stream Ghanaian acts. At this year’s edition of ‘Remembering Whitney Houston’ in Accra, Efya sang so impressively that some of the expatriates even sat on the floor while gazing upon her. Her choice of songs is very similar to the American ‘R and B’ music genre and sometimes pop. Some may even describe her as Ghana’s answer to Alicia Keys. Efya sings very well in English and this gives her a certain amount of marketability on the global stage. Her feature on Wizkid’s song was used in the Hollywood movie ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’.
MzVee and Adina both suffer from the same disease; they both don’t have a particular music genre they belong too! This has made their music difficult to categorize, hence, their products cannot be sold to a target market but just flung around for anyone to make a pick at which song or songs they prefer. MzVee originated from a music pop trio called ‘D3’. The trio had a perfect blend of catchy vocals and rap lines which presented to Ghana an all female band that was ready for global success. But after the group split, MzVee started diving into the Dancehall genre. It is this move that begun distorting the image of the singer. Though she still possesses one of the most sellable voices in Ghana, the singer is yet to go back to her original genre, which is Pop music.
One of the most convincing voices which exudes feminine maturity enough to musically seduce a listener with complete clarity is the voice of singer Nana Yaa. After being a backup singer for some of the legendary musicians in Ghana like Kojo Antwi , Nana Yaa finally stepped out to reveal the source of the voice that got everybody talking at a point. Nana Yaa can also sing very fluently in the English language just as she does in ‘Twi’. However, she has not tried any ‘major single’ in completely different music genres that would appreciate the uniqueness of her voice like jazz or ‘R and B’. She has also performed to one of Accra’s wealthiest expatriate community and received good reviews from the audience. Despite this, Nana Yaa remains among the birds singing in the garden of Ghanaian music when she should be ‘the bird from Ghana who sings in every garden’.
Rappers EL and Feli Nuna are lyrical geniuses with a pen capable of lacing any Hip Hop beat with bars that will not just entertain but amaze. But these talents, especially ‘EL’, have neglected their Hip hop roots and chosen a more local musical rhythm and even dialects in projecting their music. EL started out as a member of the Hip Hop group ‘Hatsville’ but went solo along the line. He enjoyed some mainstream success in the Ghanaian music industry. Many of his fans were glad when he was announced as the ‘Artiste of the Year’ one time at the Ghana Music Awards because, the winner of that category would get a chance to attend the B.E.T. Awards in the United States of America. Knowing how lyrically gifted ‘EL’ was and his Hip hop roots, many knew he was the perfect candidate to represent Ghana at the B.E.T. Cypher (a short display of rap skills by selected but lyrically intelligent rappers) but this did not happen for other reasons. But then again, may not necessarily need such a platform to gain international audience, because he has the talent and eloquence in the most popularly spoken language around the world to do it.
Any serious record company will first check these two things before signing on any talent: Language and music genre. Unfortunately, in Ghana, these are the two things Ghanaian artistes don’t seriously consider in the name of being versatile and patriotic. Nigerian musicians on the other hand are approaching this with a more professional attitude, hence, their successful cross over to the Ghanaian market and other areas. Ghanaian talents need to pay attention to these two areas if they are to gain global success in the music industry.
By Jerry Wonder