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MUSIGA out with a blueprint

By James Harry Obeng

 

As part of efforts to bolster commercially-viable relations with the Ministry of Trades and Industry to promote local music and culture globally, the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) is out with a blueprint to create jobs and generate more foreign exchange revenue for the country.

 

Codenamed Development of a Business Case for The Musicians Union of Ghana, the blueprint touches, among other objectives, on facilitating an initiative towards the implementation of the music industry component of the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS 2) document which ends by December, this year.

 

These were made known when Mrs Diana Hopson, President of MUSIGA, led a high-powered delegation from the musicians union to pay a courtesy call on the deputy Minister of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Hon John Gyetuah (MP, Amenfi West).

 

The delegation, composed of Ernest Kwesi Enin, Ag.General Secretary, veteran musicians A.B Crentsil, K.K Kabobo, Bibi Brew and , presented a copy of the blueprint to the deputy Minister.

 

In a brief speech, Mrs Hopson lamented on myriad developments which she said were militating against the development of the entertainment industry in the country.

 

Prominent among the problem were the issues of copyright, piracy, the unauthorized use of musical works and distribution via internet and mobile phone downloads, and the absence of a music industry umbrella in the country.

 

“our music industry is also by the inadequate provision of performance halls, the abuse of copyright works by some radio and television owners and managers, the lack of access of enforcement for the use of local content by the electronic media and the lack of access to funds”, she said.

 

Mrs Hopson, therefore, called for a stronger support and collaboration with the ministry to “use musicians in the country to propagate made-in-Ghana goods”.

 

For his part, the deputy Minister pledged the ministries preparedness to partner the music industry, “especially regarding using our good musicians in promoting the made-in-Ghana goods abroad like Friday wears”.

 

Hon Gyetuah commended efforts of MUSIGA for ever remaining steadfast in championing the interest of musicians in the country.

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May 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mike laughs home with Mentor IV and decides on “How I’ll spend the GH¢10,000 prize money”

By James Harry Obeng

 

None of the entertainment seekers, lovers, families, media men as well as critics who defied the late-hour downpour that hit the city of Accra last Sunday to watch Michael Kesse Frimpong (Mike) cruise his way to rule the microphone at the finals of TV3’s Zain-sponsored Mentor Reality Show at the National Theatre would raise any murmur for very obvious reasons.

 

The passion, character and solemnity with which Mike secured his stay throughout the thirteen weeks of the competition had endeared him to the followers of the show who would not write him off easily for the ultimate, but would continue to vote for him each week.

 

Watching Mike wield the microphone to perform on-stage could be such a memorable experience to ever relish as one is always assured of his waist-winding techniques and scintillating pirouettes, at times mindless of how lacerating some remarks by the show’s judges and other critics could mean to his emotions. Thus, Mike simply does showbiz like it is nobody’s business.

 

And whenever it mattered most in showmanship throughout the competition, Mike had also courted the spotlight onto himself to the admiration of judges Mark Okraku-Mantey and Dominic Ansah-Asare, who would also not shudder in their responsibilities to give him the morale-boosting thumbs up when necessary.

 

However, Mike tells The Spectator in an exclusive interview shortly after his triumph as the winner of the fourth edition of the Mentor Reality Show about the magic behind his success story and how he intends to spend his GH¢ 10,000 prize money.

 

“Many people don’t know that I’d tried several times to make it to Mentor but all of which I failed to qualify”, he said, revealing that the magic behind his winning the Mentor IV competition was “perseverance, prayers, confidence and serious rehearsals”.

 

Mike who failed to qualify to enter the Mentor Reality Show since its inception on two counts, viz Mentor II and Mentor III had also petered out with his four-some group, the Shades, in the fifth week of Gang Starz, another TV3-organised Reality Show.

 

He recounted how disheartened he was when he was ‘sacked’ from the preliminary stages of the regional screening of contestants for Mentor II in 2006, saying he still remembered a remark made by judge Mark when he (Mike) told him to come back the next day to determine his fate.

 

 “The next day tension gripped me to the extent that I couldn’t sing the beginning of Bobby Valentino’s Slow Down, he said, emphasizing thereafter the verbatim words that judge Mark uttered: “If I was the one who told you yesterday to come today, then I made a big mistake”.

 

 

Nevertheless, none of the foregoing ‘morale-dampening’ developments could draw him from becoming GH¢ 10,000 rich today, ‘something I never thought could come to me at a go like this’.

 

The first of three siblings of Mr and Mrs Allotey, twenty-two (22) year old Mike hails from Kwahu Pepease in the Eastern Region, but boasts of been raised at Asoredan ho at Dansoman in Accra where he now lives.

 

A product of Riss Memorial School at Dansoman, Mike entered the Nkawkaw Secondary School where he read Agricultural Science and completed in 2005.

 

With the desire to pursue a lifetime career in music, he gained admission to study music at the Methodist University in November last year. He, however, had to forgo the admission “momentarily because I qualified to Mentor IV that same time and looking at myself, I realised that music is 70 per cent of my talent which I have to pursue.”

 

 He adds: “So if there is anything I will use my prize money for, then it will be going back to the university to learn music because I also have a free recording deal as part of the winning package”.

 

Mike, whose favourite artistes on the local front are Praye and Wutah, is currently working on a solo, titled Oh Yes, ahead of his recording contract with Zain Telecommunications.mike-greater-accra

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

MY SISTER’S HONOUR PREMIERES TODAY

By James Harry Obeng                                                                             

 

Whoever, even for once, joined the hypothetical chorus that the local Ghanaian movie industry was ‘dead’ or has been upstaged by the neighboring Nigerian Nollywood should head straight to the National Theatre in Accra at exactly 8 o’clock in the evening for confirmation or otherwise.

 

After its screening in the United States (US), Britain and Holland, the National Theatre will today host the first country premiere of the film My Sister’s Honour.

 

The premiere which will see the attendance of dignitaries as H.E John Dramani Mahama, the Vice President of the republic, and other state protocol promises to re-invent the vital link that kept local movie industry aglow in previous years.

 

Produced by Hammond Mensah (HM) Films Production and directed by Victor Emeghare, My Sister’s Honour represents a revolutionary turnaround to the humdrum where the end of a movie can be seen from the start.

 

Roll-calling actors and actresses like Jackie Appiah, Vincent McCauley Jnr, George Williams, Edward Marbel, Vivienne Achor, Gavivina Tamakloe, Kalsoume Sinare,

Grace Nortey, and Victoria Azuga, the movie provokes mind-tickling questions about the paradoxes in life and love, showing how lethal the consequences of broken promises, betrayals and sabotage could be.

 

Some of these questions include “What will make you gamble your love and happiness for the departed?”, “Who should be held responsible when you survive an assassination attempt on your life at time when two forces are operating against you?, just to mention a few.

 

After encountering six miscarriages in his ten-year old marriage, the life of a multi-billionaire business magnate (Dan) comes crushing as his lovely supporting wife dies in a caesarean section that delivers a bouncy daughter.

 

Now, Angel whose love affair with Ben, her fiancé, can equal that of Romeo and Juliet is pressed upon to step into the shoes of her departed sister and marry Dan. This development pushes plans of Angel and Ben to marry in limbo as each had to keep up the obsessions of their common future on daily basis.

 

Brought up in a God-fearing home coupled with her love for the departed sister, Angel keeps distance from Ben for two years, albeit her ageing billionaire husband Dan never weans himself from the passage of the first wife, Angel’s sister.

 

Dan will for two years remain adamant to the sexual advances of Angel, forcing the latter to consistently relish the years she spent with Ben. Ben also forever keep waiting for the return of Angel until they finally meet at airport where the latter was seeing off his husband abroad on a business purposes.

 

Ben will then cancel his flight right away and propose to meet Angel later in the evening. Dan returns and later finds out about the seemingly‘re-union’ of the once lovebirds, and thus makes swift amends to maintain Angel as wife.

 

Ben too will go all out to claim what he believes is rightfully his. All these while, Ben is

placed under a spell by Mercy, another pretty lady disappointed with her rejection by Ben.

 

The end of the tussle is what becomes lethal as a friend of Dan is mistakenly killed in Dan’s car by unknown assassins believed to have hired by somebody. Meanwhile, to know the face behind the killing remains a mystery to unravel at the National Theatre with a GH¢20 ticket. A must-watch!.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As four settle for Mentor IV finale…..

By James Harry Obeng

 

Audiences who swamped TV3’s Studio B to watch the penultimate battle of Mentor IV Reality Show really had a mouthful to chew with the expectations of some completely dashed.

 

Aside relishing good old tradionally-brewed Highlife songs originally done by legends like Nana Kwame Ampadu, Awurama Badu, Dr Paa Bobo, Obuoba J.A Adofo, Rex Omar and the Wulome Group of the Ga State, some of the audiences never anticipated how some of the contestants could make amends with impressive last-minute turnarounds to forgo eviction, last Saturday.

 

And when the time for the eviction finally came after each contestant had performed for the night, the chances of some of the contestants to either remain or exit the show were already no more secrets. Mike and Sam were, before the night, tipped by many, including the judges, to stay. They were however no surprising survivors when they were announced by the presenters, KOD and Dentah, to go bask-stage to the Mentor House.

 

This decision, particularly informed by their lead in votes and impressive performances for the night, would not raise the minutest of eyebrows since keen objective followers of show since its inception have penciled already their names for the finals.

 

Left with the fate of the remaining on-stage four contestants to be decided, Chris would take a gracious bow as the first evictee for the night due to non-performance and slack in votes.

 

But emotions and expectations flared tempo-high when the final evictee was to be decided from among Brong Ahafo’s Julie and Greater Accra’s Naa. Already, Angel has shortly followed Mike and Sam backstage to the Mentor House, and thus booked the third ticket for the finale to come off at the National Theatre tomorrow.

 

With all the uncertainties settled, Julie would make it to the finals ahead of Naa for some genuine reasons, according to the judges. First, her performance of Awurama Badu’s Meni Obiara tese wo earned 5-4-4 in stars ratings, forcing the legendary High-lifer Teacher Boateng (of Nana Kwame Ampadu’s African Brothers Band fame) who was the guest judge for the night to remark “there is no identifiable difference between your rendition and the original Awurama Badu”.

 

Second, she has got a talent that the ‘technical eyes’ of judges Mark and Dominic cannot get swayed off. Now, an emotionally overjoyed Julie could not help herself from the development than to let tears of joy stream down her eyes whilst hugging on tightly to Naa with whom she was sharing the dais with.

 

Meanwhile, tomorrow is the final showdown that closes down the chapter on the fourth edition of the Mentor Reality Show. “Who rules the mic” is the question for the bidding. Your guess may just be apt as that of the millions other observers of the show, but surprises are there too for the taking, at least with the qualification of Julie for the finale at National Theatre tomorrow.

 

Stay tuned as two ladies individually battle for the ultimate with two gentlemen.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gifty Osei ……… sings the greatness of God in ‘Aseda’.

By James Harry Obeng.

 

With the background from where she shot onto the local music scene uncovered, many are the music-lovers in the country and elsewhere who may no longer have to obsess themselves with how songstress Gifty Osei (Mrs) could so swiftly turn the music spotlight onto herself with her debut Aseda.

 

Currently, not only is Aseda enjoying popular acceptance and recording phenomenal patronage on the sales market, but also making unanticipated waves on local music charts. Its airplay on radio and television stations in the country can only be described as massive.

 

This feat, according to Gifty, is of nobody’s making but rather of God’s “who has painstakingly guided and led me to consistently polish the talent that He has put in me to spread and preach His word through music.

 

This is why I sung Mede Aseda bema Onyame to show my appreciation to Him for indeed making all things beautiful in His own appointed time for me”, contends the stunning light-voiced singer in an exclusive interview with The Spectator.

 

The album, released and duly launched at the Tema United Bethel Pentecostal Ministry in October 2007, is a ten track masterpiece that has songs as Enye mea, Wo nkaakyi, M’ani da woso, Aseda, as well as the title track Oyonko pa Yesu, just to mention only but a smattering of the hit tracks replete with the album.

 

Hailing from a humble family laden with music talents, Gifty’s says all her exploits in serving God have culminated in sharpening the musical talent put in her for the service of humanity and also manifested in the album.

 

At the tender age of thirteen, she gallantly led the Junior Soul Talents, the junior choir of the Peace Assemblies of God at Tema Community 1 in the Greater Accra region from the year 1996 until 2000 when she joined the Gospel Light International, also a church at Tema.

 

There at her new destination too, Gifty Osei again took up the role as the church’s choir leader, a position she held from 2000 till 2007 when she debuted onto the gospel music scene.

 

Additionally, Gifty also had a stint with A.B Crentsil’s Ahenfo Band where she played the role as the lead gospel vocalist in 2006. “So all these have impacted tremendously on the album in terms of its quality for which reason I will forever give thanks to God for crowning my efforts in His service with a beautiful album like this”, she quipped.

 

Asked about one development that she would have personally saw to address if ever she was given the ‘power’ to on the local music scene, Gifty took a brief gulp of air  only to exhale with a response that was pregnant with religion and two faced.

First, “I chose to do gospel music because I thought it was of a calling to propagate the word of God than just mere singing. So when I see some of my colleagues dressed so seductively to the extent that parts of their breast will be showing, it becomes disturbing”.

 

She explains that as gospel musicians “the Bible entrusts us to draw people to God by first serving as worthwhile examples, but not to behave as people who are about to Know Him”, adding that “I do dress fashionably but not to that extreme”.

 

On the second note, Gifty Osei lamented on the not too business friendly approach some religious denominations and pastors have adopted towards gospel musicians these days, saying “when churches and pastors invite us to perform at their programs, we do expect that they understand our situation too.

 

I accept the fact that we are all doing God’s work, but which doesn’t mean they (pastors) should not see to our expenses”, she said, adding that “I don’t charge, but a little token for me and the instrumentalists I play with will do”.

 

Born Gifty Oppong to Evangelist Agnes Annan, a budding actress, and Mr Samuel Oppong, both from Senya Breku in the Central region, Gifty debuted on the local music scene two years ago with the bang Aseda.

 

Already, nominated for awards in three categories in the ensuing Ghana Music Awards (GMA) this year, Gifty believes with the help of God, she will sweep the Popular Song of the Year and New Artiste of the Year awards.

 

She is married to Prophet Elisha Osei, the General Overseer of the Blessed Generation Ministry at Tema, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Blessed Productions, Gifty’s record label.  They are blessed with a child Princess Femi Osei who is a year old today. Gifty picks her husband as her role model, and Emy Newman as her favourite gospel artiste.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Becca: Valentine is not all about sex

By James Harry Obeng

 

For songbird Rebecca Akosua Acheampong, known in showbiz circles as Becca, the Ghana Music Awards (GMA) Record of the Year winner for 2007, fancying a date outing with her on such occasions like the Valentines Day is as a normal experience as any lovesick women would readily fall for a responsible, nice-looking gentleman upon a first-time encounter.

 

To the young ever-green music sensation who does not only rivet music-lovers with her love songs and distinctive voice, but also wields all the looks and figure that easily catches the attention of most men, chilling out on such occasions like today — Valentines’ Day — is a dream every lovesick person, including herself, may ever wish to have each passing day.

 

“But the idea that Valentines Days are days purposely set aside for making sex to women ever portrayed by some men as stereotypes of sex images is neither here nor there”, reckons the music prodigy who adds that “to love somebody is not only about sex, but it is about responsibility and caring for each other; so it is utter misconstruction for anybody to see such days as sex days.

 

“Rather”, explains Becca in an exclusive interview with The Spectator one week away to the official release of her second album Daa Ke Daa that “Valentines’ Days are not day’s meant for lovers to prove or showcase their strengths or otherwise in lovemaking”.

 

She adds that “they are days originated from Christianity to show love, affection, compassion towards loved ones and family, and most importantly cater for orphans, the needy, the vulnerable and underprivileged in society, especially children and women”.

 

Becca lamented on the development where on nearing Valentines Days, pharmacy stores and other outlets ran out of stock of condoms, noting that “though protection is better than cure and for that reason using condoms to protect oneself against eventualities is a good sign of how Ghanaians are beginning to understand the need and importance to curb HIV/AIDS and unwanted teenage pregnancies”, it also do not speak well of the country.

 

She intimates that the country would become a better place to live if compatriots broke the mentality of promiscuity hovering around Valentines Days and instead channel resources and energies into catering for the needy and children on such days.

 

To that effect, Becca who has been trained as a Child Care Education Worker by the Croydon College in the United Kingdom (UK) announced a Valentine package for children as part of her contribution to changing the promiscuous mentality about Valentines Days.

 

“Though I may not be present in the country on that day (today), I and my record label (EKB Records) have settled on a special package for the day as part of my Rescue Tour to raise funds for AIDS afflicted children”, she told The Spectator at her Tesano base in Accra on Tuesday.

 

She however warned Ghanaians, especially the unmarried youth, to abstain from sex in order to avoid the deadly HIV/AIDS disease and unwanted pregnancies.

 

Responding to questions about her career as a musician, Becca hinted that her new album, titled Daa Ke Daa, would be on the market by next week, and urged her fans to “go out there and get copies for yourselves”.

 

The album which features Tinny and Joe (of Mentor II fame) is a single-track masterpiece which has been performed in three other remix versions with Highlife, Raggae and Club mix cadences. This, however, makes it four tracks on a CD.

 

Becca has for the past twelve weekends been touring eighteen (18) states in Nigeria as part of a musical project, and she is also working on a comprehensive video compilation of all her songs, including her first album “and my other exclusive videos” onto a DVD.

 

The fifth of nine siblings (six brothers and four sisters) of Mr and Mrs Isaac Acheampong, Becca was born in August 1984 at Asokwa, a suburb of Kumasi, the Ashanti regional capital, but raised in Accra, Ghana’s capital.

 

She attended the Morning Star School at Cantonments in Accra for her basic education before proceeding to the Cape Coast–based Wesley Girl High School (WEGEHE) for her second–cycle education, entering in the year 2000. Becca, however, had to cut short her studies at WEGEHE in 2002 to continue at the Croydon College in the UK.

 

Becca became an instant hit and a force to reckon with on the local music scene when she released her debut You Lied to Me in 2006 which won her the Ghana Music Awards (GMA) Record of the Year 2007 prize. This has been aside her nomination for a host of other awards, including Discovery of the Year (ACRAG Awards, 2007), Best African West (Channel O’Music Awards, 2007), Female Dance 2007 (KORA Awards) as well as Ghana’s Representative to MTV Awards, Nigeria 2007.

 

Becca is again contending for the Female Artiste award at the KORA Awards event to be staged in April, this year.

 

As a musician with the character to use her music to champion the cause of women and children, Becca says her greatest treasure in life is “God because without Him, there cannot be life and without life there will be no Becca”.

 

At her leisure periods, Becca watches musical programs and clips, especially those of her favourite artistes on the local front like Kojo Antwi, Praye, Kwabena Kwabena, and Adina as well as international stars like Tracy Chapman, Destiny’s Child, South Africa’s Huge Masekela and Yvonne

Chakachaka.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Praye: Managing the ladies is our challenge

By James Harry Obeng

Following their impressive renditions and stage-crafts that won them two separate awards on the threshold of their musical career, many are the music-lovers who would readily concur in their assessments that Praye indeed meant business. That was in 2003.

The determination, team-work and simplicity with which the group transformed their musical talents into soothing lyrical compositions could not have paid off rewardingly without grabbing the ultimate award of the maiden edition of the Nescafe African Revelation as they pitched their mettle against eight other contenders from various parts of the continent.

The trio had booked their place in the final showdown held in faraway …… after they had successful won the national award on home soil in Accra

Today, Praye are not only proud owners (or better still winners) of many enviable awards, both home and international, but also nominees for three other awards to be hosted later this year, courtesy their exceptional way of shooting video clips.

But these, according to the sensational Afro-Pop performers, do not signify even a smattering of the talents and songs that abounds in them. For Stephen Fiawoo De-Graft, known in the group and showbiz circles as Praye Tietia, they have not yet shown a minute of the music in them.

Rather, he would expatiate on their ambitions by disagreeing with people who draw inspiration from the saying that “the sky is the limit”, saying “the sky is our beginning”.

In an exclusive interview with The Spectator on Wednesday before their departure to the Ugandan capital of Kampala where they would be performing for an international audience as part of a promotion programme organized by telecommunication company Zain, Praye Tietia indicated that they group would be releasing their next album later this year.

“Our fans should expect something big from us this year”, noted the ever-versatile trio who added that their success as a group was partly underpinned by their name Praye “which signifies unity and which entrust on us the challenge to always stand united to prove foes wrong.

“We have stayed together in the same house ever since we came together, so we have learnt to deal with our differences”, they quipped.

The multiple award-winning trio reckon that with “the help of God, our maker”, backed and guided by a professional management (EKB Records), they have not regretted taking on music as their fulltime business because “you can be the best of musicians, but if you don’t have a good management team, you can’t make it anywhere”.

They contend money at the money was not “a big deal as before because our fans continue to keep faith with us”.

However, Praye would not hesitate to share with The Spectator one of the challenges that ever confronted them as artistes (or better still male stars). This is “how to manage the ladies.

“Although we are all attached, we cannot also wish away the fact that women follow us anytime they realize we are Praye. But we have been managing how to deal with them as professional artistes”, Praye Tietia noted.

Praye shot onto the local music scene with their debut Shoddy in 2004, following it up with Run sam tins and now Angelina which currently enjoying massive airplay on radio and TV. The group is made up of Eugene Baah (Praye Honeho), Nana Kwame Koranteng (Praye Tenten) and Stephen Fiawoo De-Graft (Praye Tietia).

They have won many awards, including Best Group (KORA Music Awards 2005), New Artistes 2005 and Best Group of the Year 2006 (Ghana Music Awards (GMA) United Kingdom (UK), New Artistes of the Year and Hip-life Song of the Year (GMA 2005) and Album of the Year (GMA 2007).

 Praye has also been nominated for other music video awards to come off later this year. They include Best Story (UK), Best Group Video and Best Picture (4sight TV/TV3 Video awards). Praye look up to the footsteps of international Afro-Pop star Wyclef Jean and Highlife King Nana Kwame Ampadu in their career.

Eugene hails from Akuapem Mampong; Stephen from Keta and Koranteng from Akuapem Akropong.

May 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment