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Highlife music will always stand test of time  —Bessa Simons
Highlife music will always stand test of time —Bessa Simons

Highlife music will always stand test of time —Bessa Simons

DESPITE the dominance of foreign music genres in the Ghanaian music industry, including the relatively recent Afrobeats, and worries that the country's long-standing music genre, Highlife, may succumb to their pressures, Veteran musician Bessa Simons remains positive the Highlife genre will continue to thrive.


He held that other genres that surfaced in times past, and appeared to be doing well, eventually faded away because they lacked the specific characteristics and firm basis that Highlife had built over the years to become a bedrock genre.

In a recent interview with Graphic Showbiz, he made the argument that there had been pioneers who had established the Highlife space and left a solid foundation, as well as a purposeful ongoing effort by some Highlife artistes to hold the fort so that the genre would survive.

“Highlife will always stand the test of time because of its distinctive elements and how some of our new crop of artistes are carrying it along, just like what our pacesetters of Highlife music did.

“Azonto came and it faded out in no time and we have equally had some of these trends that metamorphosed into a certain genre and they also faded out. But with our Highlife genre, it has stood the test of time in the presence of all of these.

“Some of our new crop of artistes like Akwaboah Junior, does it so well and he has always been one person I use to describe what Highlife music is to people who are not so familiar with the genre, as well as the wider community. Akwaboah particularly, and a few others, do it so well. They use the right instruments and sing it exactly how it should be sung,” he stressed.

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When asked what efforts were being made to consolidate this journey of making Ghana’s bedrock music genre stand tall, the one-time member of the greatest African group ever, Osibisa, held that stakeholders in the music industry had initiated processes of getting the Highlife genre inked down as part of Ghana’s intangible cultural heritage.

“We can’t downplay the role of our industry stakeholders, because efforts are being made by relevant stakeholders to make the Highlife genre a part of Ghana’s intangible cultural heritage. This will mean that we have solidified the genre and with a little push from our artistes and those of us involved in the chain, we will be good to go,” he added.

Bessa Simons, who is a multi-talented musician with more than 40 years of mentorship and practical music experience, urged the next generation of Highlife artistes who are veering off the genre's defining features to pay close attention to it and work to keep it alive.

“Some of the new crop of artistes are doing well while others are not really projecting it as it should be and they are rather adding too much foreign flair, which even makes it difficult for us to tell exactly what genre or style of music they are portraying. What we need our new crop of Highlife artistes to do is to incorporate the distinctive features like the way we sing Highlife, the instruments, and make use of them because that is what we are missing now.

“One thing that makes Highlife distinct is the use of guitars and percussions like the xylophone, cymbals, triangle, snare drum, bass drum, tambourine, maracas, gongs, chimes, celesta and piano, and make more use of them because they play important roles and define our Highlife genre,” he added.


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