Music audition judges are making what I call a ‘music-mistake’ which defeats music acculturation for nurturing the youth with Ghanaian music.
The bible admonishes us (the old) to teach our children the right ways so that in future when such children grow up, they do not depart from the good orientations they had. Unfortunately, we fail to teach the young the right way but when they grow up and fail to meet our expectations, we turn to hypocritically chastise them for being deviants.
You watch the auditions conducted to select candidates for music reality shows and about 70% of the songs the contestants use to prove their talents and music artistry are all foreign songs. Majority of these youth talents surface before the judges and songs you hear them sing are songs composed by; Westlife, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Boys to Men, Beyonce, Rihanna, R. Kelly, Joe, Usher, Michael Jackson, Chris Brown, etc.
After these contestants sing such songs, you hear the judges mostly remark; ‘you have a great voice,’ ‘you can really sing well,’ ‘your voice is sweet.’ ‘You have a very powerful voice.’ Never have I watched any of those audition footages and seen a contestant sing a highlife song only for the judges to pass same or similar remarks.
It’s as though sweet voices are meant for singing Western songs only. The best they do is to just say ‘it’s ok.’ In one of the videos I recent watched, a young guy came to sing a highlife song composed by Oburoba J. A. Adofo. This young man sung Adofo’s “ankwanoma dedewa.” The countenances of the judges revealed weirdly: ‘what is this?’
In fact, one of the judges who could not hold himself, burst into laughter teasingly. I really felt sorry and embarrassed for the contestant. The impression it creates or the orientation it imbues into such youths is that, highlife music is an inferior form of music or meant for uneducated persons. Most of the judges do not appreciate contestants who sing in our own languages or sing music of Ghanaian origin—so I think.
It’s therefore not shocking that most of the contestants who attend the auditions of such reality shows sings mostly foreign songs, because, they’ve also read the psychology of the judges and know what the latter expect –“brofo nyom.”
To you my dear reader; please answer this for me, “Have you ever watched any foreign music reality show (say America got talent or American idol) and seen the contestants sing any highlife song by C.K Mann, Nana Ampadu, Koo Nimo, Pat Thomas, Amakye Dede, etc?
‘Kwasi broni’ will rarely allow his/her son/daughter to learn, rehearse, listen or sing music from Ghana or Africa at home, because they know the psychological, social and economic effect it has; no judge on American Idol will probably allow that.
Why? Because they have a responsibility to their audience, to generate income, pay taxes to the government of their country, create employment, promote artistes or performers within their culture, and to be competitive in their market. In as much as we don’t see the greatness in our own we shouldn’t expect others to see them as great!
Whilst the African media and entertainment markets are more excited about foreign artistes, they are more interested in their own performers and cultural products. They understand and do not play with ‘the battle for eyeballs.’ All great cultures, appreciate their own! So can’t we live in a world of our own for once?
Since music reality shows keep increasing in numbers on our screens, I recommend to the judges of such music reality shows to condition the contestants to use music from musicians such as: E.K. Nyame, Koo Nimo, E.T. Mensah, Senior Eddie Donkor, Thomas Frimpong, J. A. Adofo, Ampofo Adjei, Nana Ampadu, Akwaboa and co to prove their talents.
It is one of the most effective ways the youth can be prevailed upon to love, respect and appreciate Ghanaian music, especially highlife. We will be amazed the huge number of youth who will grow to love and do music of Ghanaian origin if we give it an assay. Until then…….MOTWUM!!