Akwasi Kyereme remembers Fela

Entertainment of Thursday, 19 February 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Akwasi Kyereme Trumpeter

Germany-based Ghanaian trumpeter, singer and composer Akwasi Kyereme has always had a swag of his own but there is an extra bounce in his step these days because the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa is so much in the news now.

A track on Kyereme’s new six-track Tribute to Fela album contains a song called Lampedusa. Tragedy has befallen thousands of illegal immigrants trying to reach Europe through Lampedusa over the years and nearly 400 folks were said to have drowned in the waters there last week.

Kyereme bemoans the sad situation through his throbbing Afro-beat sounds and grieves for all the people who have lost their lives in search of greener pastures.

“I have been a hustler before so I understand what pushes people to take certain risks to attain better lives,” says Kyereme who is currently in town on holiday but has lived in Berlin since 1984.

That was the year he moved to Germany after working in Nigeria from 1976 with Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti as his tailor.

Kyereme was a tailor in Kumasi and met Fela in 1972 through the late music producer and show promoter, Faisal Helwani. He later moved to Accra and continued to make clothes for Fela till the Afro-beat king took him along to Nigeria.

Before the move, Kyereme also made clothes for some of the top musicians of the 1970s here including Faisal himself, Stanley and Frank Todd and Okyerema Asante.

He had always loved music and sang with some bands during his time away from his sewing machine. He attended music school in Germany where he learnt composition and arrangement and also picked up the trumpet.

He formed his first band in 1988 and was very much into reggae though he offered some Afro-beat as well at his concerts. This Tribute to Fela album is Kyereme’s fifth collection of songs after his previous reggae and ragga albums.

It is dedicated to Fela for inspiring him to get deeper into music and for Fela’s commitment to social issues through music.

Other songs on the catchy Tribute to Fela album include Yeye, Saanetie, 1000 Berlin and Mad Man Dey Run Run Things. They all reflect Kyereme’s awareness of social matters and desire to comment on them, just like his mentor, Fela did.

The album is a fine pot of ideas worth listening to due to Kyereme’s social consciousness and ability to deliver well-produced music.