There is a strong misconception of Africa. Through the media and other social media outlets, Africa is perceived as a struggling continent seeking dependency from others. The perception is false. There is richness flowing through the rivers and streets of African Countries. From entrepreneurship, architecture, art, and music, Africa is all things royalty! Royalty is seen and heard through radiant beauty and powerful voices such as Ghanaian afro soul singer, Efya.
There was no better feeling of waking up after a hectic night of playing with toys, sliding down slides, and coloring epic artwork to a morning bowl of cereal. As I watched my Saturday morning cartoons, I could almost remember my eight-year-old self, rolling my huge eyes to when commercials would grace the screen. A commercial stuck out to me at that young fragile age.
A small group of black kids would be presented on the screen with gleaming eyes. Scenes of despair and malnourished children lying upon the laps of their mothers would be exposed to the watching audience. Clothes rested upon their backs soaked in the dirt as a telephone number prominently lay at the bottom of the screen. These commercials for the eagerness of donations to help the struggling African continent stuck in my head for years to come. The perception of Africa as a struggling and almost completely rural area, made me accept a stereotype that many people create.
These portrayals of need are somewhat true yet fabricated to the highest. Many cities and places upon the African continent flourish with richness and value that many countries are heavily influenced by. Music has been a huge eye-opening experience that made me wake up from my close-mindedness. From the purity and authenticity of traditional roots in modern music, places such as Ghana continue to move musical mountains. Artists such as Efya form a strong front of artistic excellence and push against the narrative of African perception on the global stage.
Efya, the Kumasi Song Bird!
Born Jane Awindor, Efya embodies the lovely artistic styles of singing, songwriting, and acting. According to the world of Wikipedia, Efya was born in Kumasi, Ghana. Being the daughter of television host and filmmaker, Nana Adwoa Awindor, the vocalist was surrounded by artistic excellence throughout her childhood. Voice training through family members at a young age propelled her into an ideal entertainment career. Her first kiss of fame was through her participation in the “Stars of the Future” talent show. Although losing the competition, the Afro-soul singer secured herself with a promising three-year record deal as an outcome.
Afro-soul is a musical genre that infuses the raw and gritty sound of soul music with the traditional African sound. The musical genre highlights the emotional intensity of vocal interpretation from prominently a lead singer. Highly correlated entities connect various genres with Afro-soul to Afro-jazz, Afropean, and Afrobeat. The Ghana musician describes her music as a mixture of influential Afro-soul with a pinch of pop. With strong influences of The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, and Kojo Antwl the incorporation of old school jazz, soul, and other genres embody her pop fused sound.
The Ghanaian Songstress
Following her TV show debut, Efya created a collaborative project with stars of future winner Irene Logan that produced huge waves in South Africa. With the growing success as a musician, Efya changed her name from Miss Jane to the artist further known as Efya. “When I decided to go solo, it made sense at the time to reinvent myself in every way, I wanted a name that was African and unique but at the same time relevant to me in some way. My manager, Jimmi, helped me come up with the name Efya”. In 2011, The Ghanaian songstress continued into her artistic expression by being awarded Best Female Vocal Performance at the Ghana Music Awards along with winning the 2013 Africa Magic Viewer’s Choice Awards.
The singer from Kumasi began her recording debut with her first mixtape, TINT. The album title embodies the acronym “This is not the album”. A mixtape is a set of songs created to spark a buzz for an upcoming album and awareness of an artist. A project album generates movement of units and single generations. The complete album package fits into the industrial machinery in a puzzle-like nature. This lends to the notion of the mixtape title. Song performances from the time frame of 2011 and 2013 conducted the monumental project. In 2016 the highly anticipated studio album “Janesis” released April 22nd.
The album consists of triumphant ballads, and emotional vocal implications surrounding life’s challenges. From love to pain, the Ghana artist taps into her personal experiences into this impactful album. With strong humanitarian outlets, Efya became an official ambassador for the “Awal children of the Future Foundation” (ACOTF) which is a non-profit organization aimed to help physical and emotional trauma victims surrounding street (orphan) kids. The foundation consists of other African artists such as Sarkodie, Yaw Siki, and Ruff n Smooth. With additional branches off of her successful singing career, Efya launched “The Native Chic”, a clothing line that centers around her pure and loving essence.
Songs of Ghanaian Beauty
The music of Ghana and other African countries embodies a sensual romantic nature within their modern music hemisphere. Through the lyrical stylings paired with an updated traditional rooted approach, songs like “Until the Dawn” by Efya create an ambiance of romantic closeness. I love the details of the music video as it complements the song completely well. The video immolates everything beautiful and radiant of black women and their ability to create amazing music with passionate stories.
“I wanna make love to you until the morning. Grow old and strong with you, until the morning
Have a baby boy with you, we’ll call him Kwame. I wanna make love to you, until the dawn”
Love has a strong pulse that moves people in ways that are indescribable. When it comes to unconditional love, there is a moment between two people when vulnerability becomes an acquainted action as one asks the other to open themselves to appear their true being. When one realizes that it wasn’t what they thought, the inconsistency of love can arise as things become faded or watered down regarding the connection created. The song “Forgetting me” is an intensely emotional ballad that embodies these feelings of doubt, sadness, and intense wondering. The lyrics linger on through a powerful message of heartbreak.
“I wanna know. If you have forgotten. So, I’ll not remember you. Forgetting me. Remember you Forgetting me”
Through understanding and embracing my roots from Ghana I realized over time, that media does not always show the joyous and prosperous side of my African Heritage. Places such as Nigeria, Ghana, and South Africa flourish through art, science, education. As music brings people together through all walks of life, the music of Africa countries have formed a baseline for much of the mainstream pop music you hear today! From emotional ballads to uplifting dance music that feeds the soul. Music throughout the beautiful continent holds a strong spot in people’s hearts globally.
Photo: Shutterstock / Edited by: Martina Advaney
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