Okaidja Afroso is an Afropop singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist from Ghana, West Africa. His unique artistic vision has led him to combine his native rhythms with unforeseen pairings of musical flavors. His sound is a spicy fusion of Ghanaian music with diverse cross-cultural influences. Although most of Okaidja’s hypnotic arrangements are sung in his native language, the meaning shines through. His calling and life purpose is to bring us all together so that we can laugh and grieve and dance and forge forward together, in community. His uncle was the town’s notorious composer who spared no one with the songs he wrote about life in their small fishing village. Okaidja’s mother was a colorful lead singer in her spiritual church. Her powerful songs of praise earned her the name “the spiritual singer.” As a young boy Okaidja sang while he worked on fishing boats. The fishermen would sing a cappella songs as they worked, and Okaidja passed the long days learning the songs of the great sea. Born into a family of musicians and storytellers in the village of Kokrobite on the west coast of Ghana, at the age of 19, he was accepted as a professional dancer for the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies. He became well known for his energetic stage presence and excelled in his performances of the Ga fetish dances. The Ghana Dance Ensemble gave Okaidja the opportunity to study with the best teachers in the country. As he toured internationally, Okaidja expanded his artistic reach becoming a master multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, and arranger.
I had the chance to checkout the virtual event put on by the Wisconsin Union Theater featuring the beautiful works of Mr. Okaidja Afroso. The stories around the musical tales where as informative as they were an easy way to slide into another person’s culture (and shoes). The different instruments used present the page turning of the book for the evening, with not only a new image and sound, but feeling. While it sure is strange not to be able to soak in those feelings in person, the virtual experience offered is still a great way to support the scene, the artist and the arts. If you get a chance to see Okaidja Afroso virtually or soon enough in a live setting, go get your spirits lifted, your minds enriched and your hearts filled.