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Reinstating Traditional Music in Contemporary Contexts: Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian’s Lifelong Encounters with the Musical Traditions of Africa
Reinventing tradition has indeed been the lifelong pre-occupation of Emeritus Professor J.H. Kwabena Nketia, as a musicologist, linguist, composer, performing artist, teacher and advocate. The book gives opportunities for a fluent narration of a complex story, by the protagonist himself. Such intellectual biographies are rare, particularly when they span a period of 90 years, and deal with the author’s sources of inspiration, intellectual influences, mentors, as well as social and political contexts from which a wellspring of ideals have sprung. This book is a feast what is worth sharing with policy makers, scholars, art practitioners, young and old scholars alike, who year for reminiscences about music, the arts, life and scholarship across a greater part of nine decades. This is simply a trove on arts and nationalism, worth reading and passing on.
— from the Foreword by Professor Kwesi Yankah, President, Central University
Emeritus Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia was born on June 22, 1921 at Mampong Asante. He was a composer, ethnomusicologist, and a writer. He had over 200 publications and more than 80 musical compositions to his credit.
He was Acting Principal, Presbyterian Training College, AkropongAkuapem, First African Director, Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Professor of Music, University of Ghana, Professor of Music at UCLA, Horatio Appleton Lamb Visiting Professor at Harvard University, Visiting Cornell Professor at Swarthmore College, Distinguished Hannah Professor of Integrative Studies at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Visiting Professor at the University of Brisbane in Australia, Visiting Professor at the China Conservatory of Music, Beijing, Andrew Mellon Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh, and Langston Hughes Professor at the University of Kansas, Lawrence.
He was the Chancellor, Akrofi-Christallor Institute of Theology, Mission and Culture, Akropong-Akuapem, a Foundation Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts & Sciences, Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain, and Ireland, Honorary Member of the International Music Council (IMC-UNESCO), Honorary Fellow Of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Honorary Member of the Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), Member of the International Jury for the Proclamation by UNESCO of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and Board Member of the National Commission on Culture, Republic of Ghana.
His numerous Awards included Cowell Award of the African Music Society, Companion of the Order of Star of Ghana, Grand Medal of the Government of Ghana (Civil Division), Ghana Book Award, ECRAG Special Honour Award (1987), Ghana Gospel Music Special Award (2003), ACRAG Flagstar Award (1993), ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his book on the Music of Africa, IMC-UNESCO Music Prize for Distinguished Service to Music, Prince Claus 1997 Award for Distinguished Service to Culture & Development, the Year 2000 Distinguished Africanist Award of the African Studies Association of the USA for Life-long Devotion to African Studies, and DLitt(Honoris Causa) of the University of Ghana.
He passed away in 2019.