WHEN singer Della Hayes and her Women of Colour band take to the stage at Alliance Francaise in Accra on Saturday, September 14, it will be a cheery celebration of 10 years of exemplary achievement by an all-female group.
Formally launched at the same venue on April 24, 2009, the band has bravely rolled as a showpiece of female perseverance, bringing its own flavour and sparkle to several events and venues in Ghana and beyond. Della Hayes, however, says it has not been an easy ride.
“Marking 10 years in any band’s life is not a small thing. And celebrating 10 years with an all-women band is a different thing altogether. It is no joke at all, there were sceptics who felt the whole project wasn’t feasible. We proved an all-female band can be as good as any all-male or mixed gender outfit.
“Like all human institutions, there have been challenges but we are still here and marching on with grace and hope. My joy is that there are other all-female bands in the system now, an emulation of the Women of Colour example and a clear demonstration that women can hold out on their own as far as popular music is concerned,” Della Hayes said with pride.
Guests coming on board at the Alliance Francaise to help celebrate the decade of existence of the Women of Colour band include Wulomei legend Naa Amanua; Queen of Highlife Asabea Cropper and the all-female Golden Ladies band from Kumasi.
With Della Hayes in her band are Stephy Senyo (bass), Maya Acheampong (trumpet), Cynthia Addae (trumpet), Vanessa Batantore (trombone), Lawrencia Amo (keyboards), Emanuella Cobby (drums) and Akweley Amerdormey (drums and backing vocals).
The formation of an all-female band was something Della Hayes had mulled over since 1999 when she met Liberian drummer Esther Binta, with whom she played in the Ghana Navy and Ghana Broadcasting Corporation bands.
The two anxiously wanted to form a band but it was hard getting other female musicians to join them, so the idea was shelved. It wasn’t until the beginning of 2009 that Della Hayes eventually managed to pull in other musicians for them to start serious rehearsals at Kaneshie Mpramprom in Accra.
Over time, the band played several gigs, including Music of Ghanaian Origin (MOGO), Girl Talk, Kojo Antwi 24th Night, Vlisco Awards Night, Fete de la Musique, Dutch National Day and African Legends Night concerts. It also travelled to feature at music festivals in Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
As the Women of Colour look forward to thrilling guests to its own songs and refreshing interpretations of some popular standards, it is Della Hayes’ dream that more all-female bands will be formed in this country to prove they are also capable of working hard to attract the needed attention.
The ‘Della, Womanity & You’ project to help discover and hone talents of women will also be launched at the 7 p.m. Alliance Francaise concert.