Highlife Time 3
Highlife is Ghana’s most important modern home grown dance-music that has its roots in traditional music infused with outside influences coming from Europe and the Americas. Although the word ‘highlife’ was not coined until the 1920s, its origins can be traced back to the regimental brass bands, elite-dance orchestras and maritime guitar and accordion groups of the late 19th and very early 20th centuries. Highlife is, therefore, one of Africa’s earliest popular music genres.
The book traces the origins of highlife music to the present – and include information on palmwine music, adaha brass bands, concert party guitar bands and dance bands, right up to off-shoots such as Afro-rock, Afrobeat, burger highlife, gospel highlife, hiphop highlife (i.e. hiplife) and contemporary highlife.
The book also includes chapters on the traditional background or roots of highlife, the entrance of women into the Ghanaian highlife profession and the biographies of numerous Ghanaian (and some Nigerian) highlife musicians, composers and producers. It also touches on the way highlife played a role in Ghana’s independence struggle and the country’s quest for a national – and indeed Pan-African – identity.
The book also provides information on music styles that are related to highlife, or can be treated as cousins of highlife, such as the maringa of Sierra Leone, the early guitar styles of Liberia, the juju music of Nigeria the makossa of the Cameroon/ It also touches on the popular music of Ghana’s Francophone neighbours.
There is also a section on the Black Diasporic input into highlife, through to the impact of African American and Caribbean popular music styles like calypsos, jazz, soul, reggae, disco, hiphop and rap and dancehall. that have been integrated into the highlife fold. Thus, highlife has not only influenced other African countries but is also an important cultural bridge uniting the peoples of Africa and its Diaspora.