22 of the most iconic musicians in Ghana's 62 years of existence

22 of the most iconic musicians in Ghana's 62 years of existence

Despite whatever anybody thinks, Ghana has come very far since gaining independence from Britain in 1957.

Within the six decades of independence, every aspect of Ghana has achieved a lot and not even Kwame Nkrumah could have envisaged what was to become at this time.

The achievements of Ghana as earlier chronicled by YEN.com.gh, have come about as the result of a collective effort from Ghanaians from all facets but we often single out Nkrumah and others for special mention.

Just like the nation itself, Ghana's music industry has undergone many phases with contributions from thousands of musicians.

While everybody may have played their parts, the contributions of some stand tall among their peers.

Here is a list of some of the Ghanaian musicians who have been most iconic in the 62 years of Ghana's existence.

1. E.T. Mensah:

E.T. Mensah is regarded as the 'King Highlife' as he is believed to have popularised the genre in the 1950s and 60s.

His hit songs 'All For You' and 'Ghana Freedom' are still very popular songs.

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2. King Bruce:

A composer, bandleader and musician, King Bruce was one of the pioneers of highlife music.

Apart from playing, King Bruce was interested in bringing musicians together under one body and was a leader in the formation of Musician's Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) in 1974.

He is most noted for his song Queen Elizabeth which was a welcome song for the British Monarch when she visited Ghana on November 10, 1961.

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3. Jerry Hansen:

The Ramblers International Band is one of the most popular Ghanaian bands of all time and it was led by Jerry Hansen who is himself a highlife pioneer.

Hansen who helped found MUSIGA was elected as its first president released over 200 songs including hits like Ama Bonsu, Onua Pa Due, Nyame Mbere

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4. Nana Ampadu:

Nana Ampadu with his story-telling style of music is regarded by many as Ghana's greatest musician ever.

Born Kwame Ampadu, he came to be known as 'Nana', the title of a chief in the Akan-speaking parts of Ghana, after winning a nationwide competition to be crowned the Odwontofoohene, or "Singer-in-Chief"

Said to have composed over 8000 songs, Nana Ampadu has many hit songs to his credit including

Ebi Te Yie, Agartha, Drivers, Akwantifi Wuo, among many others.

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5. Ebo Taylor:

Ebo Taylor may not be very popular but he is one of the musicians who took Ghana to places in the 1960s.

A guitarist, composer, bandleader, producer and arranger, Taylor mastered in highlife and afrobeat music and he even had a collaboration with Nigeria's Fela Kuti as far back as 1962.

Taylor's international image is summed in the fact that in 2009, American singer Usher used a sample from his song, Heaven, for his She Don’t Know track

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6. C.K. Mann:

C.K. Mann pioneered the kind of highlife that comes from the Fante lands.

As the leader of the Carousel 7, it was C.K. who persuaded the band owner to sign Paapa Yankson who went on to become one of the greatest musicians ever.

C.K. Mann has to his credit hit songs like Adwoa Yankey, Fa W'akoma Ma Me, and Asafo Beeson. And he even succeeded in doing gospel songs that made waves.

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7. A.B. Crentsil:

One of the most legendary musicians of his time, A.B. Crentsil has been active on the music since the 1960s.

Well-known for his very controversial lyrics, Crentsil has spawned hits like Moses, Atia, Sokoo, Devil, Angelina, Adwoa, among others.

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8. Amakye Dede:

Amakye Dede recently celebrated the 45th anniversary of his music career which started with 1973 with the Kumapim Royals which was led by Akwasi Ampofo Agyei (AAA).

After sojourning to Nigeria and returning, Amakye Dede the Apollo High Kings, in 1980 and dominated the highlife scene in the 1980s and 1990s and has continued to have hit songs in the 21st century.

Amakye Dede has had many hits including Bebrebe Yi, Iron Boy, Odo Da Baabi, Kae Dabi, Sufre Wo Nyame. His Akwadaa Wesoa hit is particularly one of the most recognisable highlife tracks ever.

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9. J.A. Adofo:

Obuoba J. A. Adofo a.k.a. The Black Chinese is a high energy performer. A nephew of Nana Ampadu rose to stardom from his days as a lotto receiver.

He is inarguably one of the best live dance band performers with his City Boys Band.

His Ankwanobi track is one of his favourite tracks.

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10. Osibisa:

Unarguably Ghana's biggest music export of all time, Osibisa was originally founded in London in 1969 by four expatriate African and three Caribbean musicians.

Their exploits have been well documented with many hits including Welcome Home, Coffee Song, Woyaayaa, Sunshine Day, Warrior Song, Pata Pata, among others.

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11. Awurama Badu:

Awurama was the first ever female to gain mainstream success as highlife artiste.

Having started as a singer with the Ghana Police Band, Awurama went solo established herself as one of the best at the time males dominated the scene.

She had hit songs like Medofo Adaada Me, Komkom, Odo Tie and "Obaatan Refre Ne Mma", among others.

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12. George Darko:

One of the biggest revolutions that have occurred on the Ghana music scene is 'burger highlife', the highlife songs that were largely produced in Germany.

George Darko started the burger highlife movement with his Ako Te Brofo hit in 1980. He also released many other hits including Highlife Time, Obi Abaayewa and Money Palaver.

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13. Daddy Lumba:

The multiple award-winning musician has an extremely successful career stretching over a period of thirty years

A gospel singer in his days in school, Lumba only got introduced to highlife after meeting Nana Acheampong (with whom he released his first album Yeeyaaka Akwantuo Mu in 1989) in Germany.

Since then, Lumba has gone on to become the biggest burger highlife artiste with over 30 albums including gospel to his credit.

He has had countless hit tracks with Aben Wo Ha, Tokrom, Sika Asem, and most recently Yentie Obiaa, and Enko Den.

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14. Kojo Antwi

Kojo Antwi, also known as Mr Music Man is one musician who cuts across the Afro-pop, highlife and reggae genres who started his career as part of Boomtalents Band and later Classique Vibes.

His success with love songs is legendary making many women fall in love with his music.

Having released his first album, All I Need Is You, in 1986, Kojo Antwi did not enjoy mainstream success until his third album Mr Music Man in 1992.

He has since not looked back and with hit tracks like Groovy, Densu, Tom And Jerry, Amirika, among others, Kojo Antwi has remained one of the best.

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15. Reggie Rockstone:

Rockstone pioneered hiplife, the fusion of highlife and America's hip-hop, somewhere in 1994 and went ahead to release the first-ever hiplife album, 'Makaa Maka'.

Though there has always been the argument that rappers existed in Ghana before Rockstone came back from the UK, he was the one who properly branded it and made it catchy.

Without him, there would have been no hiplife and without it, the Ghanaian music scene would not have been as it is today.

He has hits like Tsoo Boi, Sweetie Sweetie, Keep Your Eyes On The Road, among others.

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16. Obrafour:

After Rockstone pioneered the hiplife movement, many youths jumped on board. One of them was Obrafour aka Ghana Rap Sofo whose Pae Mu Ka album released in 1999 is considered as the best ever hiplife album.

Obrafour's rap skills have seen him deliver hits including Oye Ohene Remix, Ako, Heavy and many more.

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17. Ofori Amponsah:

After bursting onto the scene in duet album, Wo Ho Kyere, with Lumba, Ofori Amponsah established himself as a formidable artiste in the 2000s.

He released hits like Asew, Sardine, Otoolege, Emmanuela, among others and won many awards.

Ofori Amponsah's dominance on the music scene at the time was just unparalleled.

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18. Yaw Sarpong:

There have been many formidable gospel musicians including the likes of Tagoe Sisters, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Osuani Afrifa, Diana Hopeson and many more but none of them ever reached the heights of Yaw Sarpong at his peak.

His Wo Haw Ne Sen hit was one of the fastest selling records ever when it was released in 1999.

And he made a lot of timeless hits including Awurade Na Aye, Dua Esi Asubonten Ho, Se Yehowa Hyira Wo A, among others with his Asomafo band.

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19. Sarkodie:

Sarkodie may be a relatively young artiste but he has been one of the most consistent artistes in Ghana in the past decade

The fact that Sarkodie is the most awarded artiste ever in the history of Ghana music should explain his standing as a legend.

In these modern times when YouTube is very important to a musicians career, Sarkodie's Adonai Remix with Castro which was released in 2014 leads as the most watched music video ever from Ghana.

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20. Shatta Wale:

The story of how Bandana, rose from the ashes like Phoenix and rose to become Shatta Wale is known to many people.

After getting a nationwide hit with his 'Moko Hoo' in 2003, he went into the doldrums and it took 10 whole years for him to bounce back. He came back as a dancehall artiste and he has not looked back since.

He has defied all conventional ways an artiste is expected to behave but has still achieved relatively more success than any other artiste during his comeback.

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21. Stonebwoy:

Another of the musicians who have broken the dominance of hiplife on the music scene, Stonebwoy has achieved a lot in a relatively young career winning international awards including the BET.

He has projected Ghana's image with collaborations with some of the worlds best reggae and dancehall acts.

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22. Lord Kenya:

Lord Kenya was hiplife what Shatta Wale is to dancehall today. He had the biggest following and gave some of the craziest stage performances ever.

Had he not been 'arrested by the Holy Ghost', Lord Kenya would have undoubtedly been a top artiste even now.

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Honourable mentions:

Pat Thomas, Paapa Yankson, Jewel Ackah, Paa Bobo, Kwabena Akwaboah, Alex Konadu, Agyemang Opambour, Akosua Adjepong, Nana Acheampong, Abirekyireba Kofi Sammy, Lee Duodu, Ben Brako, Rex Gyamfi, Rex Omar, Okomfour Kwaadee, Terry Bonchaka, Obour, Tic Tac, Ebony, Kuami Eugene, Okyeame Kwame, Samini, Buk Bak, VIP, and Professor Kofi Abraham.

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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