Akablay marks 30 years in music

BY: Kouame Koulibaly

One of the nation’s finest guitarists, Anthony Akablay, has been a professional player since 1989 and will mark the milestone with a series of events starting from March 1.

A versatile player comfortable in a variety of contexts including highlife, reggae, jazz, afrobeat, blues and rock, Akablay describes himself as a man constantly in search of new musical knowledge.

He kicks off his 30th year as a professional celebration player on March 1 with a dinner and concert at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra.

Guest acts for the programme are Orlando Julius from Nigeria, Sonti Ndebele from South Africa and our own Gyedu Blay Ambolley.

He will play at the +233 Jazz Bar & Grill in Accra on March 2 and launch World Highlife Day with a show at the Trade Fair Centre.

He moves to play at the Republic Bar, Osu on March 5 and rounds off the celebration with a concert at the Busua Beach, Western Region on March 10.

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“It’s been 30 years of contributing our bit to the music business in this country. There have been ups and downs but we are happy to be still around and playing,” Akablay said.

A product of St John’s Secondary in Sekondi, he started taking guitar lessons in 1987 from an experienced player called Paa Joe who was then with Jewel Ackah’s Butterfly Six.

He also learnt from great guitarists like Koo Nimo and King Onyina.

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Paa Joe recommended Akablay to take his place in the Butterfly Six when he (Paa Joe) finalised plans to travel abroad. Jewel Ackah agreed and Akablay joined the band in 1989.

He left in 1991 to join the Western Diamonds but became freelance when the Diamonds, which rose to become one of the best bands in the country, began to disintegrate in late 2002.

He moved on to play with several of the people who mattered on the Ghanaian scene such as Kojo Antwi, Rex Omar, Amandzeba, Daddy Lumba, Ofori Amponsah and Atongo Zimba.

Akablay later formed his own Abiza Band which utilised Kundum, Agbadza and rhythms from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions to craft its own sound.

Albums under Akablay’s name are Life In The Pot (2007), Flipside Of Life (2010), Genesis of Life (2011), The Gospel According To My Guitar (2015) and Edoke (2017).

Always brimming with fresh ideas, his Take Away (2016) song was a big hit with music lovers across the country.

For his exploits on the guitar, he was adjudged the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards Best Instrumentalist in 2009.

He won the Best Guitar Player trophy at the 2014 Best Instrumentalists of Africa Festival in Cotonou, Benin.

He shook off competition from guitarists from Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Swaziland, Kenya, Morocco and Tanzania to grab the honour.

Places music has taken the Nzema-born guitarist include Germany, Denmark, Norway,Sweden, France and Italy.

“I have definitely paid my dues as a musician and look forward to more fruitful years,” Akablay stated.