Late music icon Jewel Ackah celebrated at funeral

By: Benjamin Xornam Glover
Pallbearers with carrying the coffin of the late Jewel Ackah
Late music icon Jewel Ackah coffin enroute to Axim, his final resting place

POLITICIANS, musicians, and stakeholders in the music and creative arts industry last Saturday, August 4, 2018  trooped to the Community 11 School Complex in Tema for the final funeral rites of deceased Highlife legend, Jewel Ackah.

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Jewel Ackah, a composer and singer died on April 27, 2018. He was 73.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings and founding father of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the political party for whom Jewel Ackah composed an anthem for commended and celebrated the deceased for his significant contribution to Highlife music and politics.

Former President JJ Rawlings at the funeral grounds

To him, Jewel Ackah was a principled person who cherished values above wealth.

"If he weren't an extremely principled person, he wouldn't have joined us(NDC) and become such a great inspirer as he turned out to be."

Most of the musicians who graced the event said Jewel Ackah would always be remembered for his great contribution to the music industry in Ghana

Some of the musicians at the ceremony included Nana Kwame Ampadu, Rex Omar, A.B Crentsil, Asabea Cropper, Gyadu Blay Ambolley, Bessa Simons, Kofi Bentil, and a host of others.

Conspicuously absent were the younger generation of musicians particularly those of the Hiplife and HipHop genre much to the dismay of the older musicians.

Also in attendance are political figures mostly from NDC. Among them are the party’s General Secretary, Johnson Aseidu Nketia, Yaw Boateng-Djan, former National Organiser, Kofi Totobi-Quakyi among others.

Awulae Attibrukusu III, Paramount Chief of Lower Axim Traditional Area where the deceased hail from also sat in state to receive mourners.

Awulae Attibrukusu III,(middle) Paramount Chief of Lower Axim Traditional Area at the funeral of Jewel Ackah

Rex Omar, who is also Chairman of the Ghana Music Rights Organisation, (GHAMRO) in an interview with Graphic Showbiz said his departed colleague was endowed with so much talent and urged the younger Ghanaian musicians to see him as a role model.

"The Highlife genre has lost a great deal because people like Jewel Ackah, Paapa Yankson, A.B. Crentsil were trail blazers of Highlife music"

"I will encourage the younger musicians to delve into the archives of this great musician and learn something from him so we can continue the tradition of great Highlife music"

A. B Crenstsil who also paid tribute to his departed colleague stated that Jewel Ackah was a mighty pillar stressing that his death has robbed the industry of one of its gems.

A.B. Crentsil (right) and Mr Asiedu Nketia at the funeral

Gyadu Blay Ambolley who was particularly upset with the absence of the younger generation of musicians and rappers at the funeral, said the least they could have done for an icon who has contributed to the industry was to show up and pay their last respect.

He called for a cordial working relationship between the older folks and the younger ones to move the industry forward.

Jewel Ackah,  popularly known as the Prince of Highlife, started his career as a professional footballer but went on to use his powerful voice and dexterity to churn out a total of 27 seven albums, solo releases, collaborations and new versions of songs.

He had stints with C.K. Mann’s Carousel Seven, the Eldoradoes and the Medican Lantics. He was also a vocalist with the Sweet Talks at various times between 1975 and 1979.

In 1979, he fronted a new Sweet Talks line-up, and recorded Hallelujah! Amen! with a backing group, he called S.T. Express.

In 1980, he recorded the solo collection Asomdwee Henee and then joined the Great Pilsner’s Band, a brewery-sponsored outfit that enjoyed a brief run of popularity.

Jewel Ackah joined guitarist Kwame Nkrumah to create Yeridi A Wu, a loving and masterful re-recording of Highlife hits from the 50s.

In the mid-80s, he recorded the soca-influenced Super Pawa, and then the Funk-Highlife fusion London Connection. More enduring was his 1986 album, Electric Hi-Life, which found a more mature, thoughtful Jewel Ackah performing alongside Pat Thomas and A.B. Crentsil.

He continued his music career as a solo artiste and band vocalist in Accra and London until settling in Toronto, Canada, in the late 80s.  He later renamed his band the Butterfly Six.

The remains of Mr Butterfly, as the legend was known was transported to Axim his hometown in the Western Region for interment after the burial service conducted by the clergy from the Joshua Generation International Ministries.

Jewel kofi Ackah is survived by his seven children.

  Former President Rawlings(second right) exchanging pleasantries with some mourners

Actress Adjoa Pee was present to mourn the Highlife icon

Rex Omar reading a tribute at the funeral

Female music greats Asabea Cropper(left) and Mary Ghansah

A ritual of seeing off the departed on display at the funeral of Jewel Ackah

Pictures: BENJAMIN XORNAM GLOVER