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Who is Nana Kwame Ampadu? – Bio, discography and his impact on highlife music

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Read Time: 3 minutes

Respected as one of the strong pillars of highlife in Ghana, Nana Kwame Ampadu has blessed our ears with over 800 authentic songs.

Early life and education

Patrick Nana Kwame Ampadu was born on March 31st, 1945 at Obo Kwahu in the Eastern Region of Ghana. He was named Kwame Ampadu after his father, Opanin Kwame Ampadu, the then head of the Asona Clan of Obo Kwahu.

His mother, Madam Mercy Afua Ntiriwaa, was a devouted presbyter also of Obo Kwahu.

Little Ampadu had difficulty in walking at tender age and crawled till the age of 5 when he started walking without aid.

He was enrolled into the OBO ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL from 1950-1952 where his parents took him to the village Adeemmra near Aboam in the Afframs Plains and had continuation of his schooling from class three to standard three (3), now class six and completed the junior or primary school in 1955.

Kwame Ampadu furthered his elementary school at OBO ANGLICAN MIDDLE BOYS SCHOOL from 1956-1959 and came out successfully as a brilliant form four leaver. At the senior school, the Obo Anglican Middle Boys authorities including teachers took delight in the cute figure Ampadu not for his brilliance only but his artistic exuberance in singing.

Road to his music career

Even at elementary school, young Ampadu developed keen interest in singing and had a very captivating voice to the admiration of his teachers who proudly choose him to give the school tunes whenever it was called for.

At the senior school, the Obo Anglican Middle Boys authorities including teachers took delight in the cute figure Ampadu not for his brilliance only but his artistic exuberance in singing. This made the head teacher, one Master Ouarcoe proud to robe him as a chorister and also appointed him as the only tune picker at all times.

Before he decided to do music full time, Nana Kwame Ampadu has worked some few jobs including being a messenger with the Ministry of Agriculture at Kwahu Mpraeso.

Ampadu, at that time sang to entertain some of his friends and admirers. Before quitting his job before the 10th month of his employment and fled to Accra to pursue his music career.

The birth of Highlife Legend Ampadu

In 1963 at the Park Cinema in Accra, Nana Ampadu formed the ‘African Brothers Band’ with his immediate senior brother, Rover Amo Ampadu who incidentally became the manager of the band.

Some of the Band members were EDDIE DONKOR (later senior Eddie Donkor) and with the inclusion of NANA NYARKO, YAW ASANTE, YAW OWUSU, ROVER AMOH, KWAME ANIM and KOO OFORI.

Later around 1964, Joe Dee, an electrician and Oppong Kyekyeku joined the group as Bass player and tenor singer respectively. In 1964, young Ampadu met Mr. Jerry Hansen, leader and founder of the Ramblers Dance band.

Their friendship grew and Ampadu gave Jerry eight songs he had composed for free which the Ramblers Band recorded. Some of the songs are Ntoboase, Afutusem, Scholarship, Me Nsoromma Bepue all became hit tracks and in turn Jerry introduced Ampadu to Phillips West Africa Ltd., a recording publishers where he recorded his first two songs.

This single was released on 21st December 1966 and it became an instant hit and served as a beginning of a new era in the guitar bands sector.

From this stage, promoters and producers chased the group for recording and performing engagements. It was no wonder that in early 1967 the group went to stay in Kumasi under the invitation and sponsorship of a hotelier, the proprietor of Ambassador Gardens in Asem, Amakom.READ MORE  3Music Awards 2021: All the winners

At the tail end, the African Brothers Band settled with “D.K NYARKO” of OBOUBA RECORDS and HAPPY BIRD labels.

In 1967 alone, the group recorded 8 songs for the Ambassador records and 16 songs for G.F.I.C.

He came to prominence in 1967 when he released his song Ebi Te Yie (or “Some Are Well Seated”), a song that was seen as potentially critical of the then-governing National Liberation Council and disappeared from the airwaves, only returning after the end of military rule.

In 1973 he won a nationwide competition in Ghana to be crowned the Odwontofoohene, or “Singer-in-Chief”.

Between 1968 and 1978 where Nana Ampadu requested for the abrogation of it’s contract with Mr. D.K Nyarko, the group had released not less than 400 single tracks.

Nana Ampadu is credited as one of the pillars of Highlife music. He has numerous hit songs to his credit and is known to have composed over 800 songs.

His death

Patrick Nana Kwame Ampadu was reported to have died in the early hours of Tuesday 28 September 2021. He was aged 76.


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