Label: Death Is Not The End
Preorder: Releases November 3rd 2023
The music included here can probably all be said to have all stemmed from a style that initially took root in the Fanti region of coastal southern Ghana. Fusing local percussion instruments with the introduction of western (most notably Portuguese) guitars that had made their way to the Fanti region of southern Ghana via the Kru seamen of Liberia, who are said to have pioneered the distinctive two-fingered style of playing while sailing the high seas.
Mingling amongst the Kru as well as with other sailors and local working-class people during the 1920s & 30s, the guitars infused with the traditional Akan seprewa harp-playing technique, creating a style known as 'odonson' or 'Akan blues' - a rootsy highlife style also commonly referred to as palm wine music, so named after the palm wine bars where the music was commonly performed. Western record companies such as Zonophone, Columbia, Odeon, HMV, and later Decca/EMI's West Africa imprint, released much of the recordings included here - with the earliest inclusions appearing courtesy of George William Aingo, Nicholas De Heer, Edmund Tagoe & Frank Essien, and Jacob Sam's Kumasi Trio (all recorded in London during the late 1920s). The form would become a key element in the popular development of both Ghanaian & Nigerian highlife, as well as the maringa of Sierra Leone, the juju of western Nigeria, and the Congolese "dry" guitar music of central Africa.
With thanks to John Collins and the Bokoor African Popular Music Archives Foundation.