Main Stage, 19/07/2019
Born in the city of Sekondi-Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana, now legendary Gyedu-Blay Ambolley exploded on the music scene in 1973 with a jazzy, funky and soulful Highlife sound called simigwa-do. Today the versatile, irrepressible singer, bandleader, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and "musical-life-force" has 30 music albums to his credit.
Maybe Gyedu-Blay Ambolley deserves another credit. Very interestingly: Simigwa-do has also been mentioned for that in this song Ambolley introduced the first ever commercially recorded rap style of music in 1973, before the Sugar Hill Gang may have done this, as the Guinness Book claims.
Ambolley took his first steps as a musician in the 1960s Highlife bands in Ghana. Originally a drummer and guitarist, he turned to play bass (an instrument many musicians credit him for), before he became a prominent lead vocalist and also started playing the saxophone. He learned music from outstanding musicians, composers and arrangers Sammy Lartey and Ebo Taylor. As a founding member and lead vocalist Ambolley gradually augmented Highlife with electric instruments, funky rhythms and socially significant lyrics in Fante and English. By the end of the 1970s, he was already a highly recognised and influential figure on the Ghanaian and wider West African music scene.
Although his classical works had been re-released presently by such renowned labels as Analog Africa or Mr Bongo, his most recent new album is Ketan released for Agogo Records, recorded in Ghana with the exceptional Sekondi Band. Ambolley formed them around 7 years ago and has since meticulously shaped and tightened the band to a next level of contemporary West African live music. It’s an exciting 9-piece band that consists of some of Ghana’s currently most talented players and instrumentalists around. They convey Ambolley’s West African Afro Funk, Afrobeat, and Highlife musical message well!
Gyedu-Blay Ambolley - lead vocal and saxophone
Isaac Kobreni Karikari - keyboard
Charles Oduro Donkor - bass
Philip Quaicoe - guitar
Peter Mensah Kadesh - drums
Justice Nii Adjiri Williams - congas/percussions
Fru Assah Atanga - saxophone
Isaac Kwaku Ansong - trumpet
Benjamin Osabotey - trombone
Serwaa Frempong - backing vocal