I cannot recount the last time any female musician in Ghana generated so much controversy for both her artistry and branding like Ebony is doing now.
The 20-year old is having such a blistering year—releasing chart-topping songs, giving stellar performances and of course eliciting so much discussion over her brand positioning.
The Ebony brand has become so strong that every appearance she makes and every comment she passes make the headlines; that’s high-level stardom!
Unfortunately, some Ghanaians who have no proper understanding of the music business, have been criticising this young, hardworking lady.
One of the hallmarks of a good artiste is his/her ability to generate attention and for everybody to be so fixated on Ebony in everything she does, is testament to how good she is. Show business is an attention-driven business.
Brand positioning & sex appeal
You are lost as an artiste if you are unable to define your brand in a very competitive industry. Knowing your target audience and positioning your brand to suit that target is crucial, and for Ebony, her target has been clearly defined and her positioning in terms of branding is on point.
Sex sells. This fact is ingrained in show business and exemplified by the music industry. With people become more open minded about sex in all aspects, artistes are finding more ways to put their sex appeal on display. Whether it is in their music videos, album covers, onstage or at events, celebrities will find any way to show off their assets.
Sex appeal is an essential tool in showbiz and as an artist, if you know you can use that to your advantage, you go all out and execute.
If you are a certain Adele or Lorde and you figure that sex appeal would not be needed in selling your music, you use your strongest point to shift your records. However, if you are a Beyoncé or Rihanna and you figure that sex appeal can complement the vocal delivery, you go for it.
Ebony has sex appeal and she is not committing any crime in selling it. She is indeed, in good business.
A standout from the competition
In a competitive industry that is male dominated, Ebony needs commendation for her ability to command a position on the charts, a slot on all the high-profile shows, and space on the front pages of newspapers.
It is interesting to note that almost all the female acts in the secular fold utilise the element of sex appeal in the projection of their respective brands – Efya, Becca, Sister Afia, Kaakie, Feli Nuna, AK Songstress etc. but only Ebony seems to take the biggest castigation. Perhaps because hers is very much in your face but she is not doing anything bad, she has only found a way to beat her competition in all departments. Clap for her!
We have an industry that turns a blind eye to other male artistes like E.L. Samini, Shatta Wale, Joey B and the others who go shirtless and half-naked in their music videos, on album covers and appearances on stage but are quick to judge and condemn Ebony when she employs the same legal tactics to sell. Shun the hypocrisy!
Ebony is not Mzbel – Deal with it!
The naysayers are quick to strike a comparison to Mzbel and that is lousy. Thumbs up to Mzbel for her hustle over the years and her quest to continue to remain relevant but that’s all her.
Ebony is Ebony; she defines her brand and positions herself as Ebony. She is not acting like Mzbel, who in all honesty, is not the first female act in Ghana to champion the use of sex appeal in projecting her brand. Before Mzbel, the likes of Lady Talata were heavy on sex appeal and they used it to sell their brands.
If Mzbel claims she regrets the use of sex appeal in her career that is her own issue. It is only wise that as they grow in the business, female acts alter their brand positioning because no investor or consumer is interested in a 60-something Tina Turner or 50-something Madonna wearing a bikini on stage or on a magazine cover.
The sex appeal of Stephanie Benson is exemplary but unfortunately, she is not getting the needed traction for her brand because there’s a seeming disconnect between her brand and the target audience.
This is the time for Ebony – let her breathe and shine. Just like any other star, her relevance would dim, but until then, let’s accord her the respect for her achievements in the industry thus far.
She needs guidance, not condemnation
Ebony as an artiste is young and her management is also new to the business, but they deserve all the plaudits for their ability to breakthrough and dominate.
No artiste across the world is infallible and Ebony is bound to go overboard sometimes. What she needs critically, is guidance and not the condemnation Ghanaians are known for – always in a hurry to kill burgeoning careers.
For example, the young lady was called all manner of names over her appearance on the red carpet at the recently held 4Syte Music Video Awards. What she suffered is called a wardrobe malfunction, which is prevalent in the industry and has affected many internationally acclaimed acts.
In guiding her, Ebony should be wary of how to project her appeal sexually. It must always be done tastefully and sensibly. Yes, Beyoncé wears bikini-like apparel on stage or on the red carpet, but she enhances those with leotards that make her looks tasteful.
Also, the stage is her workplace and once she is a performer, she can go all out and wear classy apparel that would accentuate her sex appeal, but, similar outfits cannot be used for TV interviews or other appearances outside the stage. She should know the difference!