We are excited to give a mini spotlight on some of the trailblazers and hidden figures of Highlife Music by celebrating the Women of Highlife from the around the 1950s to the 1990s.
Julie Ayeley Okine from our understanding was one of the few female singers brought to the limelight during the Highlife era of the 1950s. She performed with many groups and most notably with E.T. Mensah & His Tempos Band. According to Kwesi Owusu’s Ghana Highlife Music (2012). Another female singer, who should be further highlighted is Agnes Ayitey. Agnes also performed with The Tempos Band for the early half of the 50s.
Awurama Badu or Ewurama Badu was a Ghanaian highlife musician born 1945 & hailed from the Ashanti region. She was part of the few songstresses that arose in the 1970s, sadly like many female musicians she faced challenges when taken seriously as a performer. Yet still, Ms Badu was resilient and left us with popular hits like "Medofo Adaada Me", "Obaatan Refre Ne Mma" and “Kom Kom” .
Akosua Agyapong (1969) is not only a notable tv personality but also a well established Ghanaian highlife musician. She entered the limelight with her first album in the 90s, called ‘Frema’ and had popular hits like “Me Ye Obaa”. Aside from her voice and energetic dance moves, She further won the hearts of many when she joined the Highlife band NAKOREX, giving us the classic hit ‘Kpanlogo’.
Eugenia Asabea Cropper is another amazing Female Highlife Musician, who is well known for her traditional kente attire, “Tekuwaa” (headgear) and beautiful voice. An amazing saxophonist in her own right, her musical journey enabled her to work alongside her brother Kenteman as a duo and with several well-known Highlife bands in the early 70s and beyond. For example, you can hear her voice on the Sweet Talks– Mbesiafo Ntɔ Nsa (1976) & Joe Mensah – Tribute To The Roots (1978).
Amoah-Ramey, N., 2018. Female Highlife performers in Ghana. Lexington Books
Collins, J., 2018. Highlife Time 3. 3rd ed. Accra: DAkpabli & Associates.
Researched and Written by Paulina Nkansah
If you are interested in helping us dig deeper into the female perspective of Highlife music and/or history. Whether you're a collector, musician, curator, creative, historian, writer or even a lover of all things African music we would love your help. If you're interested please email us for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org