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GH music dead without Highlife —Santrofi Band

BY: Gifty Owusu-Amoah
santrofi Highlife band
Santrofi Band

LEADER of Santrofi Band, Emmanuel Kodwo Ofori, is charging Ghanaians to be ambassadors of Highlife since Gh music is dead without highlife and it is the only genre the country can boast of as a music heritage.

He mentioned that Ghana would have nothing to pride in regarding its music industry if the relevant players watch on for Highlife music to lose its status, in an era where other countries are forcefully pushing their music styles on the global front.

Emmanuel, known for his work with Highlife legend, Ebo Taylor and Pat Thomas' Kwashibu Area Band, said Ghana’s music industry was dead without Highlife since the genre had been a vessel in promoting Ghana to the world.

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“Since the inception of Highlife (Gh music), it has served the industry by being the means through which Ghana’s music is heard on the world stage.

Talk of the likes of Osibisa and Highlife greats such as Nana Kwame Ampadu, who toured the world with their craft.

“For Highlife or Gh music, an octogenarian like Ebo Taylor is still playing around the world and that is why I’m really convinced that there is no Ghana music without the genre,” he stated.

Emmanuel has been leading Santrofi band to play around the world this year. So far, the group with its goal to honour classic Highlife music in all of its forms and fusions has been playing on some of the most important stages of music festivals in Europe.

He disclosed they had been booked for over 40 shows in more than 21 countries. In this month of August, Santrofi band has played at Sziget Festival in Hungary, Wieselburg Les Grimaldines in France, Hiesige&Dolsige festival in Austria and Helden in Net Park (Germany).

Last week, they performed to a crowd of over 40,000 at the Jova Beach festival in Italy where the revellers fell in love with their vintage-inspired Highlife and Highlife Funk.

In his opinion, all these achievements have been possible because the dominant white audience enjoy Highlife as a fresh sound, different from what they have been used to for a long time.

“Our recent tours have opened my eyes to the fact that Highlife is generally competitive around the world. All that is needed is to put in the right resources and encourage the young ones coming up not to shy away from it.”

“Inasmuch as we cannot force everyone to do Highlife since the likes of Stonebwoy and Shatta Wale are doing well with Dancehall, it is equally important to note that it is our identity and the only key to unlock our music fortunes.

“If a country like Jamaica with less than three million population has made Reggae a global music genre, then Ghana has no excuse not to make similar gains with Highlife. They stayed true to their roots because they believed in what they have so we can move mountains if we give more attention to Highlife. They don’t need to understand the language since records show that patronage has always been high outside the country because the sound has not been exploited for a very long time,” he said.

While Santrofi Band through its band leader is strongly advocating Highlife, the popularity of the music style may not be strong among the young generation.

Emmanuel however blames the media for feeding their audience with the wrong sounds, adding, “We have to give people our Highlife music so that they know what we are known for.

I was at a nightclub in Brazil and they played pure Salsa music and it was overwhelming for me because they are putting their music out there.

“But what will be the reception of Ghanaian audience when Highlife is played in a club? Won’t we term it old fashioned? What we feed the audience is what they cling to, so we need to give the people Highlife to eat. When we feed them with that, they will connect with it,” he said.