Sunday, August 23, 2009

My 10 favorite Ghanaian gospel songs

Today, I went to church. For the first time in a long time. In fact, I went to a Catholic service in the US for the first time in the longest time. I feel good, still do. I have my favorite African gospel songs iTunes playlist playing. Right now. I already talked about the power of gospel music and you can see my 10 favorite African gospel songs list here. Church services in the US are more mellow and boring compared to those back home and the difference is really in the singing, dancing and 'Kofi & Ama' collections. Ghana is a religious country, the names of various small businesses would confirm that. Our whole religious culture is somewhat superficial but that's for another entry. For now, let's appreciate the beauty of gospel music.

Before that, you have to check out my favorite Ghanaian songs, 10 favorite songs from Kenya, 10 favorite songs from South Africa, my 10 favorite Nigerian songs and 10 African songs I think you should know about. Hope you discover your next favorite morning song or find a new jam for your church's next "Kofi and Ama" collection. Click the songs to find the lyrics, video, audio, etc.

Nea yehu hi - Daughters of Glorious Jesus (DOGJ)
This song came out in 2000. I know this for shizzle because when it was released, I was in Form 2 in Presec and on the editorial board. It sounded like a perfect soundtrack for Presec juniors - "Nea yɛhu yi, nea yɛhu yi a, ɛntumi mmu y'abɛn mu da o" - which means 'what we are seeing, it can't break our spirit, ever!'. Now that is a rallying cry every oppressed and bullied person should have. The song was a major hit and DOGJ is like the gospel version of Kojo Antwi, they always churn out hits. This song made such an impression on me, it inspired on my many Filla Board posts. Song talks about having a God who will fight for us so nothing can deter us from what we want to do or break our spirits. What is your problem? With God's backing, no weapon formed against you shall prosper. Amen

Mapem - Anita Obeng
A friend posted the lyrics to this song on Museke and that's how I heard about this one. It has a powerful message. "Mede m’ahoɔden nyina ara ayɛ, anyɛ yie oo" - I have used all my strength to do it, it didn't work. "Anokwa m’ahoɔden nyina ara nso adi me hwambɔ o" - I have used my strength but it didn't work out for me. "Afei deɛ mapem, menhunu deɛ menfa o" - As at now, I have hit a , I don't know what to do". Song talks about how we need guidance and strength from other sources, which you all know already so I don't need to expantiate. Abi? I love the message. Anita Obeng's not one of the heavweights, but this song is heavy, heavy.

Aman mma - Noble Nketsia
This is probably my fave GH gospel song, worship at least. Noble Nketsia is a great singer and he shines on this track. It's actually a slower version of his more popular 'Mommɛtie' song. "Aman mma, mommera mmɛtie anwanwasɛm bi" - Citizens (children of the gov't), come and hear something wonderful. "Makɔ akɔhyia barima anwanwafo bi e" - I have gone to meet a wonderful man. "Barima na yɛfrɛ no Yesu no" - The man who is called Jesus. "Wɔayi m'adesoa nyinaa ara ama me, ama me" - He has removed all my burdens. Just listen to pure bliss. Emotional. Sensational. Fantabulous.

Fefeefe - Ohemaa Mercy
This is actually the calling tone on my sister's phone. I love calling her just to hear it. Ohemaa Mercy has been around the top of the gospel summit ever since she emerged, she's done well. "Fa wo ho to ne so, na ɔbɛyɛ o" - Put yourself on Him and He will do it. "Ɔbɛyɛ ama no ayɛ fɛfɛɛfɛ, fɛfɛɛfɛ" - He will do it so that it is nice. She talks about the people who we put trust in and ultimately fail us and that God will never forsake or fail us. In fact, they sometimes take our money and run. In today's Ghana, such stories are commonplace. A right song for the right times.

Kakra nkakra - Moses OK
Moses OK is one of the most underrated Ghanaian gospel artistes. He always makes great music. "Kakra nkakra, ɛbɛyɛ yie, Ɛnti mɛkɔ so akɔ m'anim" - Little by little, it will be well, so I will keep on going forward. "Mede gyidie ani ahunu sɛ, Me daakye no yɛ kɛsɛ" - I have faith to see that, my future will be big. Little drops of water make a mighty ocean. Have faith as you pursue your dreams my people, because God will fight for you.

Awurade Asem - Cee
Ms. Powerful voice emerged on the gospel scene and took over. She didn't do too well on TV3 Mentor but once she released her gospel music videos, she had stardom written all over her. "Neɛ wode w’ano aka nyinaa ara aba mu" - All you have said has come true. - "W’asɛm yɛ me han ɛne me kanea" - Your words are my lamp and light. "Awurade, w’anum asɛm yɛ me dɛ (Dɛdɛɛdɛ 3x)" - God, your words are sweet to me. It's another song that warmed its way into my heart through my twin sisters. Cee's good and songs like hers are encouraging very danceable gospel music. Besides, gospel songs are routinely played at Ghanaian parties and events back home (but maybe not abroad).

Moko be - Nii Okai
If you have this album, my jam on there is really the worship medley but it can't count as a song here. The foundation of that medley is Moko be. I can't translate the Ga lyrics for you fully but the song loosely means 'none compares' "Na nyomo, tse ofee, na mantse..." Nii Okai is a great singer, one of the very best. The worship medley is one of my favorites for quiet time (when I do do it).

Nipa - Esther Smith
Esther Smith was in the news for sins she committed against her husband but she sure does make some fantastic gospel music. This song is all about the lyrics. I remember one time, I was in a trotro in Accra, going towards Adenta from downtown Accra and right around the 37 roundabout, this song was played on the radio and this little girl sang along 'word for word'. Verbatim. Memorable. "Dawu nyɛ awieyɛ, Nipa, dawu nyɛ awieyɛ e" - Death is not the end, human being, death is not the end. "Hwehwɛ Jesus akwan, Ɔsandɛ ne mu na nkwantene wɔ" - Look for Jesus' way, because it is in Him that there is long life. "Ɔtanfo Abonsam kɔ, Ɔtanfo Abonsam, firi me do e" - Enemy Satan go, Enemy Satan get off off me. "Mma ha mmɛgyegye me, Ɔsandɛ m'afa Jesus abɔ me do o" - Don't come here and worry me, because I have taken Jesus for myself.

Akokofunu - Great Ampong
Some people call this song Heaven and it brings tears to my eyes. The storytelling is buriful. He uses the madman's story to sing his song where the madman who goes around looking for food, when he finds some, he doesn't get a plate and when he gets plate, he doesn't have food. "Saa na wiase teɛ, wiase asetena nyɛ nika ei" - That's how the world is, living in this world is not cool. "Saa na wiase teɛ, ɛnnɛ anigyeɛ na ɔkyena awerɛhoɔ o" - That's how the world is, today, it's happiness, tomorrow, it's sadness. "Mereprepre ara, akɔ heaven" - I am itching to go to heaven. "Sɛ meduru heaven a, m'amanehunu nyinaa to bɛtwa" - When I reach heaven, all my troubles will end. "Sɛ meduru heaven a, m'abrɛbrɛsɛ yi, menkae hunu bio" - When I reach heaven, all my troubles, I won't see them again.

N'asem - Shepherds
Now who remembers this song? This one is old! It's an accapella track. "Agya Nyame n’asɛm yɛ adze a ɔma asomdwoe" - Father God's word is something that gives peace. "Agya Nyame n’asɛm no ma me ho faahodzi" - Father God's word gives me victory. Loose translation. At one of our GhanaThink retreats, one of my friends played it for me, this guy has some old hits. This accapella version is great because I can get a couple of friends and reproduce it in my backyard.

These are the first 10 songs that came to mind. If I remember one injustice that I missed, I will comment about it. Just like last time, I want to list a few honorable mentions.

Secular Ghanaian musicians do gospel tracks too and Obrafour is famous for a couple, 'Enye Nyame a' and Hwan na ene. Two of my faves feature Praye, Tinny's Passion of the Christ, Tete botan with Lady Prempeh. I met Philippa Baafi once and I love her Meyi m'akyea (I go dance o) as well as Go high. I also like DOGJ's Tumi womu, Asomdwoe hene and Wo ntaban. I also like Christiana Love's Mesu afre me Nyame with Kwaku Gyasi , and Adent nti na woresu. A less popular song is Pastor Bezaleel's Jesus. Noble Nketsia's Into your hands and Mete ase yi are great too.

The dancing prophet's Mehuri so is good too, I always picture my aunt's singing that song. "Afe yi yɛ m'afe" - This year is my year. Francis Agyei has a great Mawu Agbo melody that I love too. We can't forget Tagoe Sisters, Watua Maka, Yeadi nkunim and Eto betwa. Cindy Thompson made a big splash with Awurade Kasa which is believed to have helped the NPP win the 200 election and Awanwan do, another hit. Osoro taa w'akyi by Moses Ok is another fave. We have the secular guys doing gospel but how about Pastor Josh Laryea going all Kirk Franklin on us? You gotta watch the Praise da Lord video. Last but not the least, you have Mekae a and M'agyenkwa by Pastor Joe Beecham.

If there are some Ghanaian songs you think should have made my list, let me know too.

Long live Ghanaian gospel music.
Long live Gospel music.
Long live the Gospel.
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