E.T. Mensah was born in Accra on the 31st May 1919, his musical journey started from his early years at school. Where he learned to play the concert flute, piccolo and read music with teacher Joe Lamptey for the Accra Orchestra in the 1930’s. The Orchestra became the best-known Prewar Orchestra before the Second World War and many of Ghana’s top musicians like Joe Kelly, Tommy Grippman and Yebuah Mensah (Mensah’s older brother) alongside E.T. played in the band.
He also played the alto saxophone with the Accra High School Orchestra, the Accra Rhythm Orchestra, and the Kumasi Philharmonic Orchestra. After the war, E.T. joined the Tempos, formed by Adolf Doku and Arthur Harriman. The Tempos went on tour in the U.K. and whilst in London they recorded their LP called “The King of Highlife - African Rhythms” in Decca studios.
E.T. Mensah's legacy still stands today, as his work really explored the versatility of Highlife sound with the blend of Congo music, reggae, soul, Jazz and Afrobeat. Making him part of the legendary greats Highlife music or Big Band Highlife music.
Collins, J., 2018. Highlife Time 3. 3rd ed. Accra: DAkpabli & Associates.
Collins, J., 2017. Highlife Giants. Cassava Republic Press.
Fondation-langlois.org. n.d. Ghana's Highlife Music Collection: Biographies and Interviews. [online] Available at: <https://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/selection.php?Selection=HIGB
Oti, S., 2009. Highlife music in West Africa. Lagos, Nigeria: Malthouse Press.
Researched and Written by Paulina Nkansah