Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Music And Arts Scene

African Records Review by Staccato

JEWEL ACKAH "LONDON CONNECTION" DR-5001 "Grace Soronko", "Me Nyame hume mbodo" "Mampaw Nyowa bebe", "Mo ngyae me".

A few years back Jewel Ackah, the velvet voiced Ghanaian vocalist was not widely known and his work highly appreciated outside his native Ghana's boundaries even though he ranked among the top in the country.

His phenomenal rise to the top in the seventies however was achieved by dint of hard work with various bands around the country. The measure of his popularity becomes more obvious when it is realised that no successful recording was sold on the market without some sort of contribution by way of background vocal support or lead singing by Jewel Ackah.

In my estimation Jewel Ackah hit the limelight in 1978 after years of singing in the shadow, so to speak, when Mr G. A. Prah, of Gagophone Records employed his services to record a series of religious music (actually, popular hymns given the highlife touch by the veteran arranger Ebo Taylor). "Asodze Da modo" was an instant hit and Jewel became a celebrity.

Then his services were sought to lead the Sweet Talks Band who popularity was fast waning in Ghana's top chart ratings after years as undisputed champions of Ghana.

In the past three years, Jewel Ackah had tried to spread his wings further afield and what better place to start than in London.

With two albums released in London already under his sleeves, this singer with wonderful voice delivery only needs good management to hit the jackpot and under the present 'management of Papa Kodjo Mensah-Oklo, the executive producer of his latest album, things may look up.

So what has Jewel Ackah's "London Connection" have to offer? I would say straight away that the four numbers are extremely good and give you a total of nearly 27 minutes of dancing pleasure. (I wish it was more). Recorded at the Ghana Film Studios, Accra, and remixed at Cherry Recording Studios, London, the quality is appreciably good. "Grace Soronko" which opens the album is a mid-tempo sort of highlife which employs the fullest use of Jewel Ackah's voice but unfortunately has not much to commend it by way of lyrics, (a fault with most highlife music while others that have tried to overcome this suffer from verbal diarrhoea.

"Me Nyame Hume Mbobo" is a clever use of a popular indigenous Ghanaian religious music format as an introduction and immediately launches into an unstoppable toe-tapping beat which is carried on throughout the two-numbers on the flip-side.

Generally, the record is typically Ghanaian and if the language isn't a problem as far as good music is concerned, then it should do well on the records market.

One last observation: couldn't the album cover have been a little more imaginative than it is?

Don Rowlands leaves Thomson Foundation

Don Rowlands, Director of the Thomson Foundation, has been appointed next Director of the Centre for Journalism Studies, University College, Cardiff.

The Centre, set up by Sir Tom Hopkinson in 1970 has pioneered postgraduate university journalism studies.

Mr Rowlands' appointment co- incides with an expansion programme especially for overseas students. He was himself awarded a master's degree by the University last year for a thesis on international journalism education.

A former editor of the Western Mail in Cardiff, Mr Rowlands set up the Thomson Foundation's Editorial Study Centre in 1964 which has provided mid-career courses, first in Cardiff and later in London, for more than 800 senior journalists from 82 Countries.

In 1981, Mr Rowlands was promoted Director of the Thomson both journalism and broadcasting divisions. His work has taken him to more than 50 countries, assessing needs, setting up courses, and advising on media policies. He has addressed many international conferences, written widely on media problems and was rapporteur at a conference of world authorities at Unesco last year.

"I am delighted to be returning to my native city," he said. "Cardiff has proved itself as a centre which provides a highly professional university setting for future journalists and broadcasters."

International Women's Day

The Nigerian Organisation of Women (NOW) are scheduled to mark International Women's Day on Saturday March 9 with an exhibition of Arts and Crafts together with other Nigerian products such as egusi with shells and palm fruit at the Haringey Foundation, with responsibility for Black Women Centre at the Lordship Lane, Tottenham.

Nigerian dishes will be sold to guests who would also be entertained to Nigerian dances. Other Black Women's groups will also take part in the programme. A letter from the secretariat of the Nigerian Organisation of Women has meanwhile invited its members and others to contribute to the success of the evening by cooking a Nigerian dish in which they excel.

NOW is made up of Nigerian women from different parts of the country. Its aim is to bridge the gap that exists due to tribal and language differences, communicate and share experiences, to help other Nigerian women in need, and link with other women's groups and tackle issues that affect women, Black women in particular.

It runs Igbo and Yoruba language classes to help Nigerian children preserve their mother tongue while in a foreign country.

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