Global column – October 2019


Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band – Obiaa!

Ghanaian highlife music has never been a single statement of artistic intent. Birthed from the indigenous rhythms of Akan music and incorporating western instrumentation such as electric guitars and horns before being played in the 1920s at exclusive gatherings of the upper colonial class – hence the music’s name – to now fusing American rap motifs in the sub-genre hiplife, Ghana’s most popular musical export is ever-changing. Yet, one of its greatest living exponents, vocalist Pat Thomas, has also been one of its most consistent representatives.

Dubbed “the golden voice of Africa”, Thomas has been performing his honeyed tenor on highlife tracks for the past 50 years – a feat only rivalled by peer Ebo Taylor. Both men have recently had career-defining revivals, with Taylor releasing the excellent Appia Kwa Bridge in 2012 and Thomas making an album with the Kwashibu Area Band in 2015. Following a world tour for that record and the acquisition of a younger, globalised fanbase, Thomas’s second outing with his band is aptly called Obiaa! – everyone.

Read the column in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 04/10/19]