Nana Kwame Ampadu, “Odwontofoohene” passes on at age 76

Highlife legend, Nana Kwame Ampadu has passed on after he was rushed to the Legon Hospital on Tuesday night due to a short illness.
Nana Kwame Ampadu

Nana Kwame Ampadu, according to reports reaching us, died at the Legon hospital after he fell sick overnight. He was rushed to the emergency ward on Tuesday, September 28, 2021, morning and, died shortly.

The 76-year-old’s entry onto the Ghanaian highlife scene marked a watershed: he rejuvenated, repositioned, elevated, and illuminated highlife music with the quality of the instrumentation that the African Brothers Band which he formed and led, and which included accomplished stars such as Eddie Donkor, Teacher Boateng, Joe Dee, Kwabena Osae, Ancient Awuah, and Baba Tunde.

The composition, compactness, and lyrics of the masterpieces the group churned were simply incomparable.

The traditional wisdom and education contained sought to provide guidance and inspiration to both the young and old as in the pieces woven around various species in the animal kingdom: “Okwaduo”, “Otwe Agyanka”, “Apan Dankwa”, “Article 104”; “Yaw Asante”, “Aku Sika”, “Okun pa ho yĕ na”, “So mu gye w’adoa”, Emilia”, “Sĕ me hunu wo ntĕm a,” “Agartha”, “Sika Anibre”, “Obiba Broke”, “Yaw Berko”, preached forthrightness and resilience in familial as well as other lifestyles.

“Gyama wosuro”, “Yerewe nsa a,” “Sensam”, “Sakatumbe”, expresses the versatility and contemporariness of the Odwontofuohene.

Nana Kwame Ampadu (31 March 1945 – 28 September 2021) was a Ghanaian musician credited with numerous popular highlife tracks and he is known to have composed over 800 songs.

Ampadu’s “African Brothers Band” was formed in 1963. One of the founding members was Eddie Donkor.[3] 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”.

His musical career also involved him in electoral politics, including composing a song for Jerry Rawlings‘s National Democratic Congress party to use in the 1992 election campaign. Ampadu also released a song critical of an attempt to disqualify Rawlings from the 1992 election based on him being half-Scottish.

Today that voice has been silenced by death, but Nana Ampadu’s music, his penetrating voice, his tongue his extraordinary persona would live after him.
Fare thee well


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