Some of the dopest in Ghanaian music traveled to the quiet suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, USA for the symposium, GMGE: Ghanaian Music//Global Entrepreneurship, at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges this past March. Blitz the Ambassador, Derrick N. Ashong & Soulfège, and Paapa participated in a concert, screening, and panel series, exploring how they as artists have harnessed the capacity of new media and digital technology to create a global movement through music.
Paapa, a fresh young artist signed to Skillions Records and student at Reed College in Oregon, had the school dancing azonto to his “Dear Grace” remix at the concert March 23. Blitz the Ambassador, one of the greatest Ghanaian artists in hip hop, seized the stage with killer sounds and visuals with his band, the Embassy Ensemble. Derrick N. Ashong & Soulfège, artists + activists behind the hit song “Sweet Remix,” kept the grooves going til the wee hours. Word is GMGE was one of the best shows Haverford College has seen in years. Click on over for PHOTOS…. and another blog post by GMGE photographer Jonathan Yu.
Blitz and Paapa discussed music, entrepreneurship, and changing technologies on a panel moderated by Haverford Anthropology Professor Jesse Shipley (director of ‘Living the HipLife‘)in Haverford’s Sharpless Auditorium. They told stories of their own beginnings in the music industry and weighed in on Ghanaian and African music in a global market. The panel was preceded by a screening of Blitz’s own ‘Native Sun‘ (watch it, 20 minutes, absolutely gorgeous) and Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi’s ‘HomeGrown: Hip Life in Ghana,’ which follows the award-winning HipLife music group V.I.P.
Friday before the concert, DNA & Soulfège talked politics and poetics over pizza with Bryn Mawr’s 360° class, who had just returned from a spring break trip to Ghana. Soulfège gave the group the 411 on the corporate structure of the music industry, and how their Million Download Campaign challenges the system and puts the power in the hands of the listeners and artists. At one point, Derrick even broke out in rap.
Twenty academic departments and even more students from Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore Colleges came together to support GMGE. The symposium demonstrated to the Philadelphia liberal arts schools just why Ghanaian music is attracting rising global attention, and why the world should take a keen interest in Ghanaian music today.
Click here for more photos and here for the GMGE website. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to cop a GMGE t-shirt, $15 plus shipping, proceeds to support Nima Muhinmanchi Art (NMA), a non-profit empowering youth in Nima, Accra through the arts.
All photographs courtesy of Jonathan Yu.
-Robin Riskin, Pennsylvania