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Apr 12, 2004 | General News

Meet Abrantee Amakye Dede: The Highlife King

By e Dede
Abrantie Amakye Dede If there is one single person who epitomises Ghanaian Highlife Music, it would be Dan Amakye Dede. Call him the Highlife Maestro, the Master or the Iron Boy or Abrantee (The Gentleman). Amakye was born on 5th January, 1958 at Agogo in Ghana, West Africa. He is the youngest of nine siblings.Married with four children, he attended Agogo St. Augustine's Middle School and completed in 1972. He is the musician who has dominated the highlife music scene continuous for nearly two decades.Deservingly, Entertainment Critics & Reviewers Association of Ghana (ECRAG) conferred on him ECRAG MUSIC AMBASSADOR in 1994. Amakye's meteoric rise to fame is a story of a determined, single minded and focused genius. Within fifteen years of forming his own band The Apollo High Kings, Amakye Dede has churned out some sixteen ground breaking yet popular hit albums, garnered some national music awards including unprecedented consecutive prestigious Kora Music Awards in South Africa and ECRAG Band of The Year awards and toured practically all of Ghana, most Nigeria and also staged live shows in USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland and several African countries in a 1,300 gig-spree.All from a football-crazy Agogo native whose only formula for success was to set his sights firmly on music during his middle schooldays, but all history is now.Amakye started composing for his mentor Akwasi Ampofo Agyei (AAA) Kumapem Royals when he joined the guitar band in 1973 as a replacement vocalist. Here he penned such memorable hits such as Abebi Bewua Eso, Wanware Me A, Odo Mani Agyina and the seminal Ohohoo Batani that earned him the endearing nickname “Abrantee”.Six years later, Abrantee was making waves in Nigeria where he released four albums including the chart buster “Jealousy Go Shame”.Back in Ghana during 1987 with the help of A.K. Brobbey, the anthem Kose Kose was released to the amazement of every musical persuasion. For once here was a musician whose rhythms moved as much as his well thought out lyrics. The earlier A.A.A trappings began to peel off and a new sense of musical maturity started evolving. In no time Amakye Dede was launched - thanks to the fire and power of his Apollo High Kings. With loyal guitarist Frimpong by his side, Abrantee has gone on to record eleven (11) massive albums since then and is now comfortably floating in the skies where he dreamt as a child he would be.One of the giants who pride themselves in dynamism, Abrantee is comfortable with change. His music has assumed a more international flavour, a hybrid of reggae and highlife with dance band arrangements and his ubiquitous thought-provoking, hope inspiring and self assuring lyrics.He has opened his bar, Abrantee Spot, where he encourages up-and-coming musicians to advertise their ware by way of assisted performance and free counselling.At the end of 1994 Amakye Dede got signed onto Megastar label. Abrantee once confessed that the album Bebrebe Yi could fit in the genre of African reggae (a loose term covering Soca, Calypso, Lovers rock and the whole gamut of Afro-Caribbean pop music) and de-emphasizes the worth of wealth.The band's name has also shrunk to High Kings simply because, Abrantee explains, he does not need an Apollo rocket anymore to launch him to skies of fame and glory. He's there already.With the new marriage to Megastar, Amakye Dede's role as cultural ambassador of Ghanaian Highlife Music may not just have begun.DiscographyThe Nigerian Hits1981: To Be a Man Na War 1982: Jealously Go Shame1982: Taxi Driver1983: Ifa Anyi ChukuThe Hit Albums1987: Kose Kose 1988: Okyina Sesei1989: Odo Nfoni1990: Dabi Dabi1991: Nkaa Akyi1993: Ko Ba Bi1994: Me Fre Wo1995: Bebrebe Yi1997: Iron Boy1999: Adukrom Nsuo2002: SeniwaThe Live Releases1990: M'ani agyina1993: Live in Düsseldorf Vol. 11994: Live in Düsseldorf Vol. 2Awards1988: LEISURE Guitar Band of the year1989: ECRAG Band of the year1990: LEISURE Guitar Band of the year1990: LEISURE Contemporary Music1991: Album ( Dabi Dabi Ebeye Yie)1992: PAFAM Best Overall Performer in Highlife Music.1994: ECRAG Band of the year ECRAG Music Ambassador1996: Kora Music Awards, South Africa1997: Konkoma Music Award (Best Highlife Album) “Sokoo Na Mmaa Pe.”
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