Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Soul sister steps in from Ghana



BY GREGORY AUSTIN NWAKUNOR
THE views over the long stretch of road between Ibadan and Lagos were exhilarating. The road gleamed up in the sunshine. Rebecca Akosua Acheampomaa Acheampong, better known as Becca, appeared fresh and different from the girl, whose demeanour on stage the previous night at the Lekan Salami Stadium, Adamasingba, Ibadan was commendable. She was calm and shy. She maintained a deep silence, as the bus rode on a comfortable speed. She had on, a bluetooth headset. Her head bobbed.
Occasionally, she smiled and tapped her fingers, as she listened to the music playing. Suddenly, her hands scythed the sun and she refrained Osee, osee, osee, osee, osee, osee yei… Tsooboi. The track that caused her to freak her listener is Ghana, a patriotic song to rally Ghanaians back to the spirit of the founding fathers. Before the ride reached halfway, she took-off the headset and began to sing loudly.
The drum-driven beat and melodious lyrics could be heard now.

At 23, the latest sensation in Ghanaian music industry is already experiencing a rising fortune. As one of the Glo ambassadors, she has featured prominently in the Rock ‘n’ Rule Concert, which has held in several cities across Nigeria.
Becca decided to script-edit her life in 2007, when she re-wrote the beginning and added a new role to her character. She killed off the daughter of an industrialist and became a songstress. And so far, everything has gone according to plans. The fifth child and first girl in a family of nine children now cannot venture out onto the streets of Ghana without being mobbed by fans.
Though she is just 15 months old in the music business, she has gained so much prominence and recognition in her country and across Africa. If the trend of her performances as a Glo ambassador is maintained, there’s a prospect of getting more gigs in Nigeria. “That’s what I need now, and I can’t afford to let my fans down,” she says, putting on a long smile. “I’m really surprised by the reception I have received so far, especially in Nigeria, where I have performed not less than nine times.”
Becca enthuses, “I’ve had the best of times here. The shows have been great, and I don’t have any complaints, whatsoever.”
The shy, but highly focussed and determined lady would not allow this sudden fame to distract her. She mutters, “in five years time, I hope to have touched people all around the globe with my music. That is my dream and I know I’m not far from it. I cannot be distracted by little plaudits and admiration of fans.”

BORN in Kumasi, Ashanti region of Ghana to Mr Isaac Achaempong, a wealthy businessman and owner of Meacham Industries in Ghana, she contested in the screening process of the second edition of Mentor, a talent search in her native country.
She qualified in her region (Ashanti), but had to quit the competition somewhere along the line due to the contents of the contract attached to the programme and also on personal grounds. She feels really great not participating in Mentor but holds nothing against TV3 and still watches the programme. The talent hunt, however, marked a turning point in her life.
The old student of Wesley Girl’s High School, Cape Coast and Croydon College, London, where she obtained her certificate in Child Care and Education, says now she is concentrating solely on her musical career. “I have plans of going back to school.”
Her debut album, Sugar, with very popular tracks such as You lied to me — sang in Twi and English, featured Ghanaian artiste, Kwabena Kwabena and South Africa’s Hugh Masekela. The South African actually gave her directions on some of her tracks.
Was getting Masekela and Kwabena publicity stunt? She answers, “no”, in defiance. But adds: “This is just another way of saying I’m on the right track. African music is undoubtedly the mother of all genres of music, enjoyed in America and other parts of the world.”
So what genre of music does she sing? The simple and young looking lady says, “Afro pop.”
On why she sings that genre of music, she laughs: “I quickly get inspiration to sing this kind of music, especially from everyday life.” However, she included a proviso: “What I sing is a product of that desire to entertain people with serious lyrics and beautiful rhymes.”
The winner of Ghana Music Awards and ACRAG Awards, and nominee for the KORA and Channel O African music awards, adds, “the greatest challenge to the industry is the high rate of piracy.” But she is, however, undaunted.

BECCA, who is interested in having African artistes do regular gigs in countries other than theirs as a way of promoting the continent’s musical heritage, was in the Nigerian capital Abuja as a special guest for the launch of the MTV Africa Music Awards, MAMAs last year.
At the event, she expressed happiness that Africa, a continent of over 800 million people and over one thousand languages, which boasts of diverse sounds and rhythms, now “has the platform to recognise and reward its own.”
While lauding the feats of African personalities such as Kofi Annan, J.J. Okocha, Michael Essien and Wole Soyinka in politics, sports and literature, she expressed a wish that African music would gain world recognition and attention through the awards. She told the gathering that it was high time African music took its rightful place in the world. “The time is now for us to look at the bigger picture to market our music”.

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