By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Highlife Festival 2022 – which attracted locals and foreigners alike – ended last Friday at the Alliance Française with politically charged lyrics by the African gypsy Wanlov Kubolor.
Accompanied by subtle guitar lines from Akablay, Kubolor made sharp references to the use of super luxury cars by political leaders, good governance, mismanagement, corruption, the contentious electronic levy and LGBTQI++ rights among others.
With a cool line up of traditional and contemporary highlife musicians including Akablay, Naana Blu, Trigmatic, Samuel Owusu and Kumi Guitar, the musicians turned the amphitheater of the Alliance Française into a musical groove, where highlife flowed in a continuous stream.
Backed by the V One V Band, the musicians descended into their own world and dished out tunes that moved away from Highlife’s original constructions thereby creating a new synthesis that surprised the attentive audience, who cheered and applauded.
Singer and songwriter Naana Blu brought nostalgic feelings to elderly members of the audience with a brilliant rendition of compositions by the late Bob Cole and Kakaiku alongside her own compositions while showcasing her stagecraft through spectacular dance movements and gestures.
Ace guitarist / festival director Akablay showcased a modern version of highlife, which have been intensely blended with Kundum rhythms from the Western region, which forms part of recreational music and dance by the Ahantas and Nzemas.
A vivid performance by hip hop artist Trigmatic was reminiscent of urban / coastal highlife alongside Afrobeat that captured the attention of the crowd. Also a songwriter / composer, the award winning musician worked his way into the hearts of the audience with remarkable dexterity.
Samuel Owusu, who bounced onto the Ghanaian music scene in the early 1980s, brought sharp memories of the period, which is noted for a revolution in the annals of the Ghanaian music industry. His classic song “Mempe Meho Asem” drew cheers from the crowd as his peculiar voice soared through the air.
Noted for addressing societal issues through his rich lyrics, highlife artist Kumi Guitar coolly engaged the audience in a chat as he performed well-paced and delightful tunes that proved that young artists are equally apostles of Ghanaian highlife.
The festival was sponsored by Goethe-Institut Ghana, Adonko Next Level, Gold Star Airlines, Special Ice, Chop and Chill Restaurant and Norsway Multi Media.