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HIGHLIFE (1999)  ‘Sloopy’ Mike Giamfy en Telephone Nkomo

– How did you get to this address ? It was given to me by John Collins in Ghana. He knew Stan He’d written it down for me, to check him out -What did you expect ? Honestly. I don’t know I didn’t know what kind of person to expect At least, I knew he was a journalist …who was interested in African music For me, it was the right contact I needed in Amsterdam Somebody that understood, for what I came here for – Stan, what did you think when you saw that man ? I was surprised at first. But than a bell rang… …when he mentioned the name John Collins He came up the stairs and we started talking Seeing into his eyes, his story convinced me He was here at the right time, at the right place He brought an African breeze… …which just had reached the Dutch music venues People were involved organizing parties… …and a radio show, I started… – Who’s there ? – I’m looking for a Mr Stan Rijven That’s me ** Sloopy arrived in Holland for the first time in 1983… …Now in 1999, he returns to Amsterdam ** – Back home ? – Yes This is the man We hope it will be a hit, soon. In Holland We felt an immediate ‘click’ I believed him and he had so much of a drive And it all fitted snugly into the Zeitgeist of Amsterdam With a friend I had started a radio show ‘TamTam Club’ Every week. On an offshore pirate station And a joint, where one could dance every month… …a kind of a ‘Boite Africaine’, with live music So I promoted Sloopy in that way… …giving him a chance to play…. …giving him air time. And so it started rolling – What kind of music did you play ? Highlife. Evolving into ‘Bright life’ music I mixed all kinds of styles of music… …to a new style for Ghana Twenty years ago, all African popular music… …was just ‘Highlife’ Like ‘pop’ music is an umbrella for raggae, rap, house… …was ‘high-life’ the music of Africa ‘High-life’ spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria And in other countries along the coast… …were playing in that same kind of style It had something that originally came from Ghana It all started around 1900 Accra was a port town, with many sailors passing by They introduced the guitar and the accordion There were militairy bands -from the British army-… …bringing music from the Caribbean So they introduced the calypso-elements… And the army plus the missionaries brought brass -Stan, tell me: What’s happening here ? -We’re here on Accra’s main square… …with Ghana’s National Monument… …on Independence Day: March 6th (1999) Exactly 42 years ago, the British were expelled… …thus turning into the ex-colonial power Nkruma became the first president …. …of the indepent Republic of Ghana What we hear continually are military brass bands Introduced here by the British in the 1900’s… …what helped shape ‘Highlife’ Music This is a collectors’ item… These stars represent the Black Beats and E.T.Mensah… …all ‘high-life’ musicians from the 1950’s and 60’s Then things started to change… …with John Collins and the ‘cross-over’ music This shows the connection between the Americas… …and Europe and Ghana Through John I was introduced to Sloopy Thanks to the revived interest, records were re-released Here is the greatest… …the Louis Armstrong of West Africa…. …who’s influenced all african music: E.T.Mensah – What is this area Sloopy ? – University – The University of Accra ? – Ghana -What are we going to do ? We’re going to see John Collins In his studio I recorded my ever first recordings – He discovered you ? -Something like that – ..as being a good musician – Something like that – Is he from Ghana ? – He is British – British ? He lives here ? He only has a British skin, but… …a Ghanian heart and a Ghanian mind – He’s become a white Ghanian ? – Indeed ‘Yaa amposah’ is a harmonic progression… …it generates so many melodies Rythm and harmony is fixed… It’s like 12-bar blues You can generate 100s of songs out of it It has become a way of expressing… …that Ghanian feel, that Ghanian drive and everything Other rythms can go into that line… …but not with the same progression But any number going like ‘Yaa Amponsah’… …goes very well There is no way you can play good high-life music… …without knowing ‘Yaa Amponsah’ Mastering ‘Yaa Amponsah’ is played… …means mastering other rythms are played Just the progression of the course changes – That’s why it is the base… – One of the bases I’ll play one version of ‘Yaa Amponsah’… It is not ‘Yaa Amponsah’ , but it got its feelings **BOKOOR MUSIC STUDIO** Stan, tell me. What is this dump here ? – Dump? This is the most famous studio in Ghana I am talking about the 1980’s… …when recording music was virtually impossible Here was the sole possibility So in this converted hen house …. …John worked with his 4-tracks tape recorder While the musicians played in the open… …John recorded two rare, really collectors’ items… “The Guitar” and “The Gun” isn’t it ? – That’s what you did, then ? -1982 ? 1983 ? 1983 The whole place might fall down, because I haven’t… Sat like this. Wires passing through here Some musicians were here How did you turn to high-life ? You played a rock-band ? In ’69 I went all over the place with them. That was it With a band, you toured Ghana ? Southern Gana, ’69. I was a rock-n-roll-ist… …they’d take me before the show, on a bus To show a white man playing the guitar… …making them a lot of money – You were a token ? -Yes. Making them money I was a novelty – And now you’re the ‘white Ghanian’ I started to pick-up the ‘high life’ from them Over the years I learned how to play it But the actual, original people who play it now… …is just a handfull Some of them can’t even play anymore. Hardly They can hardly walk, let alone play – Don’t you feel compelled to record them ? Just before they die ? I do. Three weeks ago, I recorded T.O.Jazz I have been doing that I recorded Kwaa Mensah. Here. Right here When there was no roof at all. I’d just built the place He was the first, I recorded here Now, people hardly play it anymore The ‘finger picking style’ is actually dying out – What we saw with T.O. Jazz ? Yes. We like to revive it with students – Maybe Sloopy could bring tradition back… Isn’t he the link, the way he’s making his music ? Partly computer, partly in the tradition of guitar high life Of course Sloopy can play the old style The finger-picking style I don’t know if he still does. But he can I can play it You should try un-plugged: do an acoustic show This is Diana. Introduced to me by Sloopy She sings ‘gospel high-life’ Great voice and a very strong performance – She sings just gospel ? – I don’t mind. Text to me comes second. As a kid, I liked gospel from the 1940’s, 50’s… …and much later I realised this was all about The Lord Later this turned into ‘soul music’ And the Lord was traded for the Darling But the essence, the ‘soul’, remained Same with her God is in a serious business You are not here by accident You are not here by coincidence You’re here because God has something good for you This is the right place… …and God is here Righteousness will prevail Holiness will prevail. Truth. Honesty I do all the basic lines: bass, drums Layer it gradually. Till I’ll get the song together I try to be commercial Explain. Why a good musician wants to be commercial ? Of course I have to survive, to live, to earn the money You also have to be clever You have to learn the tricks of the business What is it you have to do in a song that attracts people ? Telephone Nkomo is about a telephone conversation More, on love, communication trough the telephone If I get this thing. I’ll call my loved-one and we’ll talk Then I’ld say:Hello, hello, how I miss you God knows your problem. In English. Very nice – That’s gospel ? – Are you selling ‘Sloopy’ Mike Giamfy ? – This is a best-seller now ? – What more ? This is the same ? – ‘Telephone Nkomo’ – How many he has sold now, the last year ? 100 thousand copies – Really ? So he’s really famous ? He was popular here already – Although he was living in Holland ? That doesn’t relate While in Holland, when we need him he has to come I remember a time, when the producer of… …Alpha Blondy came to Ghana and he wanted Sloopy… …to join him with his show That means Sloopy is popular – Is there hit parade ? People go for certain hits ? If someone is hit, he’ll sell more than 10 thousand a day Ten thousand, or more – Your life is lived by others ? Sometimes What is happening now, is on a very high level – What ? – The whole award-thing It is recognition by the State -…for the artists It’s a prestige being part of it So it is important for you too – Very important -…for your career And that is the National Theatre… …where the performance is going to take place… …this evening – There you get rewarded ‘Dance Music’ : Sloopy Mike Gyamfi Sloopy wants to talk to you I want to say that I feel deeply honored, today I cannot take this thing away, without saying… a big “Thank You” to all of you, who are here and all… …those, during my struggle to become a musician… …in various ways, helped me. Thank you very much – What does ‘stardom’ mean, here in Ghana ? -Stardom means: being spotted in the street That you are omnipresent in sound, and on tapes And be seen on TV If you are on TV, you really exist as a star Like in a soap-opera Which adds up to more and more status It is a very demanding state Since they expect a lot from you You have to mingle. Show yourself… … as one of them, and being generous All you might have earned you’re supposed to donate… …in favors, or in cash

Robin Kshlerin



  1. Theo U Posted on December 18, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    ENG: for all subtitles: 1. go to 6th icon ('screen') from the right: click till : underlined in red 2. go to 5th icon ('wheel') from the right: choose 'English' 3.choose 'Auto Translate' for any other language 4. and click on language of choice 
    ESP: para todos los subtítulos: 1. vaya al sexto icono ('pantalla') desde la derecha: haga clic hasta: subrayado en rojo 2. vaya al quinto icono ('rueda') desde la derecha: seleccione 'English' 3.elija 'Auto Translate' para cualquier otro idioma 4. y haga clic en el idioma de su elección ( 'Spanish')
    FRA: pour tous les sous-titres: 1. allez à la 6ème icône ("écran") de la droite: cliquez jusqu'à: souligné en rouge 2. allez à la 5ème icône ("roue") de la droite: choisissez "English" 3.choose 'Auto Translate' 4. pour toute autre langue et cliquez sur la langue de votre choix ("French')
    DEU: Für alle Untertitel: 1. Gehen Sie zum 6. Symbol ('Bildschirm') von rechts: Klicken Sie bis: Unterstrichen in Rot. 2. Gehen Sie zum 5. Symbol ('Rad') von rechts: Wählen Sie 'English'. 3.Wählen Sie 'Auto Translate' 'für jede andere Sprache 4. und klicken Sie auf die Sprache Ihrer Wahl ('German')
    NED: voor alle ondertitels: 1. ga naar het zesde pictogram ('scherm') vanaf rechts: klik tot: onderstreept in rood 2. ga naar het vijfde pictogram ('wiel') vanaf rechts: kies 'English' 3.kies ''Auto Translate' voor elke andere taal 4. en klik op taal naar keuze ('Dutch')