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Opinion: How tech is preserving the legacy of Ghana’s musical founders

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Benewaah Boateng Editor West Africa at Spotify

In Ghana, music has substantial cultural, political, and social significance which is deeply entrenched in our rich and storied history. From celebrations to times of mourning, you can always count on hearing a symphonic mix of percussive drums, traditional, and modern musical instruments making up a diverse range of music styles.

Springing from a time of fierce cultural pride and intense nationalism, Highlife is one of the most significant and widely popular styles of music to originate from Ghana in modern times and it’s profoundly connected to the country’s founding as the genre essentially provided the soundtrack to Ghana’s independence in the 1950s. According to Kofi Agovi, professor of African literature and drama at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies, Highlife was regarded as a symbolic barometer of public opinion in 1950s Ghana.

Read Also: The Big Six of Ghana’s Current Music Scene according to Spotify

As such, the artists were seen as voices of the people, expressing ideas on social, cultural and political events, sharing a feeling of national unity and a yearning for freedom through the music they created. Mixing Swing, Jazz, Rock, and traditional African music, legendary Highlife bands like Osibisa played a central role in taking Ghana’s creativity and aspirations to the global stage, particularly among European and North American audiences in the 1970s.

Formed in London in 1969, by three three Caribbean musicians and three Ghanaians who were seasoned members of the Accra Highlife scene before moving to Britain, the band spent much of that decade touring the world and playing to large audiences in Japan, Australia, India, and Africa. Strengthening the genre’s connection to liberation movements, Osibisa also performed at a special Zimbabwean independence celebration in 1980.

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However, as is often the case with music, the genre underwent a significant evolution over time as new music styles emerged, globalisation increased, and Hip Hop entered Ghana’s youth scene. The newer generation of musicians began to experiment and transform this style into something that spoke to new tastes. And thus, in the 1990s, Hiplife was born. Pioneered by musicians like Reggie Rockstone and Akyeame, Hiplife combined Hip hop with Highlife, layering rap lyrics over traditional dance tunes to convey humour, teaching and storytelling.

As music styles undergo metamorphosis, the legendary musicians of genres past – while beloved by those who’ve grown up listening to them – can often fade into the background as younger audiences seek out new music styles. This is especially true in an age where radio stations largely only play a rotation of the same top trending songs which are usually accessible pop hits from major Western artists.

Fortunately, digital music streaming platforms are now playing a new role in exposing listeners to music styles and genres outside of the mainstream. At Spotify, our algorithms provide listeners with custom and personalised playlists that are automatically generated based on users’ listening habits to match their musical tastes while introducing them to artists and genres they might not know or don’t already listen to. At the same time, our editors and curators listen to songs across a variety of genres, taking into account cultural moments, artists who are pushing boundaries, and a myriad of musical characteristics like tempo and song structure.

Our teams then compile unique playlists like Ghana Throwback Party and African Heat to further drive visibility and discoverability on a global level for artists, particularly African creators. In this way, they are helping a whole new generation of listeners  discover older, but still impactful and beautiful styles of music, leading to established legendary artists like Osibisa finding completely new audiences.

Today, through playlisting, Osibisa’s music is streamed on the platform by listeners aged 18 to over 60, in cities like London, Amsterdam, Accra, Rotterdam and São Paulo, with songs like Sunshine Day, Ojah Awake, The Warrior, Dance the Body Music, and Woyaya claiming the highest number of plays.

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As audiences continue to embrace the hits of decades past,  a programme like Spotify for Artists, provides artists and their managers with a powerful free tool to build their presence on the platform. It also provides data on how their music is travelling and being consumed. The platform can help to ensure that the music made by distinguished and treasured musicians like Osibisa, continues to make a cultural impact for decades to come by reaching not only those listeners who already love them, but also those who have yet to discover these classics.

By Benewaah Boateng, Editor, West Africa at Spotify 

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Iceland Airwaves Announces Shygirl, Joy (Anonymous), Magdalena Bay, Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul, Saya Gray, bar italia + More for 2024 Lineup

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Today, Iceland Airwaves announces the first names for its 25th Anniversary edition, taking place from 7th – 9th November 2024 in Downtown Reykjavik. Alongside the news, the festival has released ticket & travel packages for 2024, which are available now.

Celebrating two and a half decades of bringing Iceland’s thriving creative community together with some of the world’s strongest new music talent, this year’s edition promises to be one of Airwaves’ most exciting to date.

“We are incredibly proud to be celebrating not only 25 years of Iceland Airwaves, but 25 years of playing a key part in the careers of some of the world’s most talented artists,” says Ísleifur Þórhallsson, Festival Manager for Iceland Airwaves. “Over the years we have seen many of our Airwaves alumni grow from strength to strength, often developing into some of the industry’s most acclaimed artists. It is an honour to continue to bring new talent to Reykjavik, and share our beloved Icelandic community with the world.”

Leading today’s announcement is South London singer and producer Shygirl, renowned for her mid-2000s club-pop bangers, the 2023 Mercury Prize nominee boasts acclaimed solo albums alongside collaborations with the likes of SOPHIE, Arca, and FKA twigs.

Also announced today are cult London trio bar italia, formed out of their existing projects – Sam Fenton and Jezmi Fehmi’s Double Virgo, and Nina Cristante’s NINA. Following two albums via Dean Blunt’s label World Music, they moved to Matador to release follow ups Tracey Denim and The Twits, all starring their signature lo-fi, scuzzy, grunge.

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Elsewhere, the lineup sees Toronto-based, Japanese-Scottish artist Saya Grayannounced for the festival. Recognised for her genre-bending soundscapes, Saya Gray’s 19 MASTERS and QWERTY certified her as a fresh new voice in experimental music.

Moving into the world of dance, this year’s Iceland Airwaves also sees UK duo Joy (Anonymous) join its lineup, a pair known for their infectious positivity and impromptu sets on London’s South Bank. Further act announcements include American synth-pop duo Magdalena Bay. The pair embrace and explore the potential of experimental pop music, drawn to the movement by producers such as Charli XCX and Grimes.

Belgian dance-duo Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul will be bringing their brand of electronic music steeped in social commentary to Downtown Reykjavik this November. Whilst Anish Kumar will deliver a taste of his revered take on house music, one that pulls inspiration from every corner – from Brenda Lee to Hindi film soundtracks.

Celebrating creativity on both a local and worldwide scale, Iceland Airwaves will also offer a global stage to a range of beloved local artists, both honouring and supporting the local community and scenes. One addition from much closer to home is Inspector Spacetime, the Icelandic trio’s whose high energy rendition of noughties disco is irresistibly lovable. Alongside Inspector Spacetime comes Icelandic hip-hop duo, Úlfur Úlfur, who have spent 15 years developing their sound into something that is more than ordinary rap. Further Icelandic additions comes in the form of Klemens Hannigan – a composer, performer, artist, and carpenter based in Reykjavik – mostly known for his work with award-winning multimedia techno performance art project HATARI, where he composes and performs music, along with art direction of the project.

Iceland Airwaves is dedicated to booking gender-balanced line-ups as part of the festival’s ongoing work with Keychange, and having honoured the pledge just as soon as it was signed in 2019, gender-parity still remains a vital part of what the festival represents and the community of creatives that it reflects.

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Tickets and travel packages for Iceland Airwaves 2024, provided by Icelandair are on sale now. For more information, see: https://icelandairwaves.is/tickets/

Just Announced (A-Z):

Anish Kumar (UK) | bar italia (UK) | Bolis Pupul (BE) | Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul (BE) | eee gee (DK) | freekind. (SL) | Inspector Spacetime (IS) | Joy (Anonymous) (UK) | K.óla (IS) | Klemens Hannigan (IS) | Loverman (BE) | lúpína (IS) | Magdalena Bay (US) | Mandy, Indiana (UK) | mary in the junkyard (UK) | Migluma (LT) | Múr (IS) | Opus Kink (UK) | Orbit (DE) | Róshildur (IS) | Saya Gray (CA) | Shygirl (UK) | UCHE YARA (AT) | Úlfur Úlfur (IS) | Une Misère (IS) | Vévaki (IS) | virgin orchestra (IS)

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Introducing Mutale Mwanza: Zambia’s Charismatic Entertainment Powerhouse Captivates the African Spotlight!

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Zambian media queen Mutale Melissa Mwanza unveils a trailblazing path in entertainment. Kitwe native and renowned media personality, Mutale Melissa Mwanza, age 36, has made her name synonymous with leading entertainment in Zambia. Since breaking onto the scene in 2008 with a four-year stint on the breakfast show at Flava FM radio, Mutale has become a tour de force within the industry, known affectionately by her fans as the “Queen of Zambian Entertainment”.

Mutale’s first taste of the limelight came with her impressive tenure at Flava FM, which served as a springboard into a series of successful programs. She has captivated audiences as the dynamic force behind six popular shows, including ‘The Biggie’ on Flava FM, ‘Good Morning Africa’ and ‘Kumwesu’ on Africa Magic, ‘The Red Hot Breakfast’ on Hot FM, ‘Tuvwange Lifestyle’ on Zambezi Magic, and ‘Will He Say Yes Zambia’ on Honey Tv.

Her visionary approach in the media world is perhaps best exemplified by her Reality TV show “Mutale Mwanza Unscripted” on Zambezi Magic. The concept, which was birthed from Mutale’s creativity, offers viewers a vibrant mix of lifestyle content, fashion, and a front-row seat into Mutale Mwanza’s life, cementing her role not only as a media personality but also as an influential content creator and reality TV star. Also, the series is self-produced under the supervision of Mutale Mwanza Media. Dubbed the Queen of Zambian Entertainment, Mutale Mwanza does not merely wear the crown on account of her success and influence. With the status of being the most followed female entertainer in Zambia, she harbours the proud distinction of being the only female in the nation to have a self-produced reality show broadcast on Zambezi Magic.

Off-screen, Mutale’s influence reaches into the lives of the youth through her philanthropy. The “Mutale Mwanza Scholarship” is a testament to her commitment to education and upliftment, having already opened doors for two undergraduates currently studying at Cavendish University.

Through the course of her illustrious career, Mutale has earned considerable honors and accolades, including the enviable “Most Fashionable Female Celebrity” award and the “Most Influential Personality Of The Year” award, both hosted by Diamond TV. Such recognitions do not merely celebrate her fame and style but underscore her exceptional role as a shaping force in Zambian culture and media. Mutale Mwanza’s journey is far from over, and as she continues to rewrite the script for what a media personality can be, Africa watches with pride and anticipation for what is yet to come.

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Keep up with Mutale Mwanza: Instagram + Twitter

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KOFI NUEL EMBARKS ON A “FAITH TRIP” WITH DEBUT EP RELEASE

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Emerging Gospel artist Kofi Nuel is set to captivate audiences with the release of his highly anticipated debut EP, “Faith Trip,” on February 21, 2023. This marks Kofi’s first official project, following the success of his critically acclaimed single, “Speak to Me.”

“Faith Trip” takes listeners on a transformative journey into Kofi Nuel’s experiences and reflections as a believer in Christ. The EP delves into the multifaceted aspects of faith, exploring the struggles, fears, and triumphs that have shaped Kofi’s spiritual journey. With soul-stirring melodies and poignant lyrics, Kofi Nuel aims to inspire and uplift audiences, offering a genuine and heartfelt expression of his faith.

Having garnered praise for his previous single, “Speak to Me,” Kofi Nuel is poised to make an indelible mark with “Faith Trip.” The EP promises to be a blessing to all who tune in, as Kofi shares his personal revelations and connects with listeners on a profound level. “Faith Trip” will be available on all major streaming platforms. Kofi Nuel’s EP is a testament to his artistry and commitment to delivering music that resonates with the soul.

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Asamoah Gyan Joins Bawumia’s Manifesto committee

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Ghanaian Football legend Asamoah Gyan has been appointed to the Manifesto Committee of New Patriotic Party’s Flagbearer, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, for the 2024 Presidential elections. (more…)

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Vote Free Season of Miss Musilimah Ghana

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Cruz House event, organizers of Miss Musilimah Ghana has announced their preparations towards the production of a third season of Miss Musilimah Ghana following a year-long break. The all-Muslim pageant which has two seasons to its credit is by far the most recognized all-Muslim beauty pageant in Ghana, Africa and beyond. This year’s competition which is scheduled to run from May through October is specially dubbed THE VOTE FREE SEASON.  It would require absolutely no voting throughout the competition, making MMG the first beauty pageant in Ghana to introduce no voting.

Speaking to the media about the new development, the CEO, Mrs Hawa Alidu Farouk, explained the rationale behind the decision as a way to make the competition even more accessible to people from diverse economic backgrounds “Most times, people who do qualify to some of these pageants do not end up auditioning because they first of all think about who and where they would be getting their voting support from. The few who make it through auditions are not typically evicted halfway into the competition due to insufficient votes, regardless of how good they may be. We want our contestants to feel that they have equal opportunities as far as voting is concerned” Beyond this bold decision, organizers are also considering raising the cash prize amount for potential winners as well as introducing other amazing corporate and entrepreneurial opportunities for participants. Another addition to this year’s edition is the introduction of the ‘Humanitarian Project pitch’. A community-based project aimed at addressing a basic humanitarian need. “This aims at preparing our contestants to become global citizens and to be aware of the responsibilities they have as individuals to maintaining a globally safe environment”, Mrs Alidu Farouk explained. She further hinted that they are open to sponsorships, partnerships, and support from corporate organisations, institutions, brands, government agencies as well as individuals who would like to be part of the MMG community. Over the years, MMG has created an enabling platform for young Muslim ladies to excel and become their best selves in a non-Muslim-dominated industry while breaking stereotypes and changing the status quo for Muslim women through beauty, intelligence and modesty. Audition for this year’s season is also free and is currently open. Interested young Muslim ladies are expected to send a short video of themselves in their modest Hijab or Turban, and introduce themselves, their aspirations, inspirations as well as their motivations for joining Miss Muslima Ghana. Complete videos must be sent to the WhatsApp number 0559181770.

The third season of MMG indeed promises to be one of the best and organizers say they took a break to think things over and are now back with a good bounce, and more than ready to put their best foot forward, and provide a top-notch production both for the Muslim community and Ghanaians at large. More details about this season will be communicated through the MMG black box with CEO on our social media platforms. For sponsorships and partnerships, contact the numbers +233573759509 / 233248495589 or email cruizhouseevents@gmail.com.

Miss Muslimah Ghana, Beauty defined from the Islamic perspective; it’s epic!!!

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Rolling Stone Announces Lineup For SXSW – Black Sherif, Peso Pluma, Teezo Touchdown, Young Miko, Flo Milli, Uncle Waffles, Faye Webster, and More

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BlackSherif 2023 OGFAROUK

Today, Rolling Stone announced its return to Austin with the second-annual Future of Music showcase, presented by the leading online marketplace, StockX.  Quickly established as a marquee showcase of the South by Southwest® (SXSW®) music festival, the four-night concert series will celebrate the sounds of tomorrow, spanning genres and inspired by the spirit of SXSW. Performances by Peso Pluma, Teezo Touchdown, Young Miko, Flo Milli, Uncle Waffles, Faye Webster, and more will kick off Tuesday, March 12, and run through Friday, March 15.

“We’re thrilled to return to SXSW with this incredible line-up,” said Gus Wenner, CEO of Rolling Stone. “The Future of Music showcase brings our pages to life and honors the artists shaping the music of tomorrow – in all genres, all over the world.”

“We’re leveraging SXSW’s Future of Music showcase to connect with our community offline and give artists the chance to reach our global audience,” said Jerry Gaines, StockX’s Sr. Director of Brand Marketing. “In partnership with Rolling Stone, we’ll spotlight the Future 25 and further celebrate the trailblazing artists shaping the future of music.”

The Future of Music concert series coincides with Rolling Stone’s Future of Music print issue on newsstands in April. The showcase includes talent featured in the second annual Future 25 list, highlighting the artists who have the Rolling Stone staff most excited about the future of music in 2024 and beyond.

 

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Taking place at ACL Live at The Moody Theater, Rolling Stone’s Future of Music Showcase at SXSW will spotlight the following artists:

Concert Schedule:

·      Tuesday, March 12 – Teezo Touchdown, Veeze, Lola Brooke, and Chase Shakur

·      Wednesday, March 13 – Peso Pluma, Young Miko, Kevin Kaarl, J Noa, and Pink Pablo

·      Thursday, March 14 – Flo Milli, Uncle Waffles, Black Sherif, and Flyana Boss

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·      Friday, March 15 – Faye Webster, Red Clay Strays, Scowl, Dylan Gossett, and Jackie Venson

 

Thursday, March 14, will feature an opening performance by Preacher, presented by ~POURRI, followed by special guest Pheelz. Throughout the night, guests can enjoy specialty cocktails by BACARDI®.

The inaugural Future of Music showcase, which took place last year, hosted 12,000 attendees over four consecutive nights and featured a 24-artist roster. Notable talent included Coco Jones, Chloe Bailey, Mariah the Scientist, SABA, and Cuco.

The Future of Music showcase is open to all SXSW badge holders and the public. Please note that badge holders will receive priority admission, and the general public is on a first-come, first-served basis Doors open daily at 5:30 PM. Please RSVP HERE.

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In support of mental health initiatives in the music industry, Rolling Stone and Hi How Are You will display merchandise and the iconic mural painted by Daniel Johnston.

Rolling Stone journalists will report live throughout March 12-15, bringing readers the latest news and festival updates from the festival. Visit RollingStone.com and @rollingstone on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook for the latest updates and announcements.

 

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