Alex Kwabena Konadu was born in the late 1950s in Adwumakase, his musical journey started from youth playing the then-popular Akan neo-traditional drum-dance. Following this, he joined Akwaboah’s band which introduced him to the concert party and guitar band side of Highlife. In 1963 he then became the lead vocalist for the Happy Brothers Band, shortly after Konadu decided to pursue a solo career. Creating his own band with the help of Accra-based record shop owner and producer Mr A.K. Brobbey.
Konadu’s Band became so popular they established themselves as one of the Top Guitar Bands in Ghana at the time. This was due to Konadu’s effortless ability to sing, play the guitar, dance and act he became known as ‘One Man Thousand’. The Band received some notable awards around the mid-70s and Konadu won ‘Best Guitarists of the Year’ in 1976 from the Artists/Entertainment Critics and Reviewers Association of Ghana.
Despite this, Ghanaian highlife music at the time started to decline due to the military regime. Forcing Konadu’s Band to go beyond the borders of Ghana towards neighbouring African countries such as Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. One of his top songs which is also a favourite of ours ‘Mewo Ama Wo‘ was recorded in Abidjan in the early 1980s.
Due to the growing interest in African music by World Music fans, Konadu performed this song and others in the UK in his ‘One Man Thousand Live In London’ show supported by the London based World Circuit Label. Sadly on January 18th 2011 the legend fell sick and passed away in Kumasi, leaving a great legacy for many musicians to come after him.
Collins, J., 2018. Highlife Time 3. 3rd ed. Accra: DAkpabli & Associates.
Collins, J., 2017. Highlife Giants. Cassava Republic Press.
Oti, S., 2009. Highlife music in West Africa. Lagos, Nigeria: Malthouse Press.
Owusu, K. and Mazzoleni, F., 2012. Ghana Highlife music. [Pantin]: Le Castor Astral.
Researched and Written by Paulina Nkansah