Ghana Soundz was an idea hatched whilst traveling in Ghana in 2000. Being a record freak and a lover of African music, I looked around for some sounds in Accra and Kumasi. Knowing that this kind of music had always been overlooked in favour of less underground styles such as Highlife, I was convinced that these recordings were just as important in the overall picture of Ghanaian musical history. Having bought a couple of scratched up 'plates' (as vinyl records are known) in the market, I decided to ask around to find a working turntable and wound up at the house of the famous guitar-band Highlife musician K. Gyasi. Gyasi's son Kaygee is a DJ on a Kumasi radio station, and I found we had something in common: both being interested in the music of a time we were too young to know. As he spun K. Frimpong's KyenKyen Bi Adi M'awu on his turntable I nearly fell off my chair. An even bigger surprise was to find out that the old guy standing next to me and observing my praise for the tune was none other than Frimpong himself. Although some of these records (but not all) are well known to Ghanaians and a select lucky few outside Ghana, I knew that to most lovers of global jazz-funk they were unknown.
This compilation is the result of nearly two years' work researching Ghanaian music. Four trips to Ghana, countless taxi and bus trips throughout the country to track down producers and musicians alike, who were involved in the music scene of the seventies, have finally yielded this collection of music. It has been difficult to find. Most of these recordings were either unreleased or not massive nationwide hits at the time, many being popular in towns and universities, but not across the board. It's hard enough trying to find any records in Ghana, let alone those that weren't produced in large numbers. Another problem was the almost non-existent information available on the majority of these recordings. It has been a case of trial and error- buying scratched records just to get an idea of which ones may have had something of interest on them, and then trying to find either a clean copy or the mastertape. One thing that made the whole process a lot easier is the genuine helpfulness and hospitality of nearly everyone involved in this project. Ghana has a reputation as a welcoming place and I can certainly vouch for that. Akwaaba!
Ghana has always spoken with a voice louder than it's physical size. It is not one of the largest countries on the African continent, but since it's independence in 1957 has gained a reputation as an outspoken player in the arena of African affairs. This voice can be heard nowhere more strongly than in the countless recordings of both modern and traditional music the country has produced during the last seventy years or so.
The country was only named Ghana in 1957, having previously been a British colony, The Gold Coast, so named because of the rich deposits of gold found there. These deposits made the country a lucrative destination for the British and by the beginning of the twentieth century most of what is present-day Ghana was under the rule of the British. Ghana is a small country, about the size of Britain that can be divided into the drier Islamic culture of the north, and the hot, steamy, fertile south that faces the Atlantic Ocean. The main cultural groups are the Fantis of the coastal south-west, the Ashantis of the central region, the Ga of Accra, the Ewes of the eastern region and the Mole-Dagbani people of the north.