Ghana has been able to produce legendary musicians, but Ghana, does not have any musician we can term as an international music icon.
What do I mean by an international music icon? I mean, a musician that when you mention his or her name, one does not need to Google, read any journal, or ask someone to know about. My own semi-literate mother at least knows or has heard about American musician, Michael Jackson – though she can’t sing any of Michael’s songs.
Mention Bob Marley, Lucky Dube, or Michael Jackson and the ordinary person on the street of Accra Central is most likely to say: ‘I’ve seen his picture before,’ ‘I’ve heard his song (s) before,’ or ‘I can sing his song (s).’
Which Ghanaian musician comes in mind who is at the same or similar status as the aforementioned musicians? – None! According to a poll, two of Ghana’s music acts whose names always come up when we are talking or discussing about musicians who toured with Ghanaian music – Osibisa and Ramblers International, cannot be termed as international music icons from Ghana.
Foreigners who know about Osibisa or Ramblers International are those who have actually read, followed, or researched extensively on the history of Ghana’s music industry. Reggae artist, Lucky Dawuni, has toured extensively but he is not an international music icon from Ghana!
I conducted the poll by asking 10 Ghanaians (18-30 years) walking on the streets of Accra Central if they have heard or know Lucky Dube, Bob Marley or Michael Jackson and between 7-8 said: ‘I have heard his song before,’ ‘I can sing his songs,’ ‘I have heard his name before,’ or ‘I’ve seen his picture before.’ Those were some of the remarks I sampled.
However, I showed the picture of Mac Tontoh, one of the most popular members of Osibisa, and the responses were: ‘I’ve never seen this man before,’ ‘I don’t know him as a musician,’ ‘I don’t know any of his songs,’ I don’t even know the Osibisa you are talking about.’
Those were the responses between 7-10 people whose ages range from 18-30 years, gave me. The few, who could sing or knows Osibisa or Mac Tontoh, were over 35 years.
My worry – we should not delude ourselves that Ghana currently has even one international music icon! We don’t! We must all therefore work harder to produce one! It should be a CONSCIOUS and COLLECTIVE INDUSTRIAL AGENDA, involving: artists, mass media, music unions, government, music promoters, event organizers, etc.
If we think Sarkodie has won a BET Award before so he is or can be considered an international music icon from Ghana, I’m sorry to say we are living in a fool’s paradise! Foreign music award schemes may give us nominations or awards, but they see their artists as superior – that is naked truth!
I dare hazard that BET organizers are giving nominations to African artists just to spread their tentacles (brand) to Africa – not that they believe in us! Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Lucky Dube, are all late, but, they were international music icons when they were alive and still are as departed souls. Ghana has not produced any international music icon! I long to see the day we will make one. Until then…MOTWUM!!