In Joshua ‘Virgen’ Boateng’s hands, the dance band drum set offers a vast array of sounds that could be worked into endless variations and that’s why he is seen by many as one of the most musically sensitive drummers in this country at the moment.
He is the regular drummer for the Fra band but his dexterity on his equipment has landed him gigs with artistes such as Joe Mettle, Ko-Jo Cue, Yaa Yaa, Pastor Edwin Dadson, Overflow Incorporated, Adomaa, Kurl Songx, Cina Soul, Efya, Epixode and others.
As the man behind the kit for guitarist, Nii Obli, at this year’s Ouaga Jazz Festival in Burkina Faso last month, Joshua said he was happy to be a player capable of handling all sorts of styles.
“ I have been determined not to be pigeon-holed as a drummer. That limits your market value. I can play any kind of music and also function effectively on different levels in the music arena,” the versatile drummer pointed out.
In addition to singing, being a composer is also another level at which Virgen comfortably operates. He co-wrote Fra band’s Happy Yourself song with Kyekyeku and says he has more selfcomposed material up his sleeves.
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According to Virgen, who attended Tema Secondary School and later studied System Engineering at IPMC, starting off as a piano player in 2001 was extremely useful.
It gave him an initial firm grasp of music theory before deciding to switch to drums in 2011. The drums, he stated, had always been on his mind, even when he played piano and contends that the drummer is as important as any other member in a band.
Looking at the immense contribution of former Fela Anikulapo Kuti drummer, Tony Allen, to the creation of Fela’s Afro beat style, Virgen said there was more to the playing of drums than just playing beats.
“As the discussion goes on about the regeneration of Highlife, my view is that drummers have a big role to play in establishing some form of style internationally recognisable as truly Ghanaian,” said Virgen who is also a drum instructor at Lincoln Community School at Abelenkpe and Markbim School Complex at Nungua, both in Accra.
His local role models on drums are Francis Kwaku Osei and Emmanuel Bludo and his dream is to be remembered as a personality who contributed something significant to music in Ghana and beyond.