Two albums,assuring lyrics and a strong desire to make it are what have transformed Ohemaa Mercy from an unknown Koforidua-based schoolteacher into a chart-topping songstress with a still-growing fan base.
Her song, Wadwen, nugded Pastor Lennie Akpadie's Most High God off the top spot of the Megahits-Ghana music chart six weeks ago and has been comfortably rooted there since.
It entered the chart at No. 20 in late July and gradually worked its way up. The track is from Ohemaa's ten-song second album, Edin Ben which was released on the Big Ben label last February and which contains other favourites like Menwu Da and Fefeefe.
These songs have all done reasonably well, getting a lot of airplay and are crowdpullers at outdoorings, parties, funerals and other social events.
Remix versions have even surfaced in clubs and people sweat it out on the dancefloor whenever they are played.
Ohemaa gave birth to a baby boy six months ago and she cannot help acknowledging how favourably God has looked on her this year.
“I admit I have been drowned by His blessings. Things have gone well for me this year. Album sales have been encouraging but more importantly, people call to tell the positive impact the songs are having on their lives. I feel glad hearing such testimonies because they show how God is touching people through my music. ”
The song that appears to be affecting many people most, according to Ohemaa, is Menwu Da (I Won't Die). “Patients in hospitals, after paying careful attention to the lyrics, get lifted and resolve to overcome their ailments.
At least six people admitted at Korle Bu Hospital phoned to say the song picked them up from their sick beds and filled them with hope to live,” Ohemaa told Showbiz.
Life for Ohemaa too has not been exactly the same since her face started adorning album covers two years ago. She is a bit more circumspect with where she goes as well as what she does and says in public because she is so easily recognisable these days.
She says she has no regrets about but rather regrets the lack of time to devote to the children she loves and teaches at Koforidua St. Peter's Anglican school who have been seeing less and less of her since her debut was released in 2005.
Invitations to perform around the country are consistent, impelling her to seek permission and stay away from school more often than she would prefer.
All the same , she does not regret taking singing seriously. Flashing her usual shy smile, Ohemaa whose parents hail from Abakrampa and Elmina in the Central Region, said it was something she loved to do when she was very small and is not surprised her life has changed as a result of holding out her interest in it.
Ohemaa was born at Weija, near Accra and grew up in Tamale and Koforidua. She attended Ghana Secondary School at Koforidua and later the S.D.A. Teacher Training College at Asokore.
The manager of a gospel group she sang with when on holidays spotted her peculiar ability and introduced her to Big Ben Music Production who also saw the potential in her and brought out her debut, Adamfo Pa in 2005.
That did not do too badly because it got her Gospel Song of the Year, Discovery of the Year and Gospel Artiste of the Year nominations at the Golden Jubilee edition of the Ghana Music Awards (GMA).
“There are people who can sing very well but cannot compose. I'm blessed to be able to to both. Ideas come from everywhere and I carry a small notebook with me all the time for jotting down things I see and hear everyday.
In my songs I love to encourage people to hold on to God and think positively about their lives. There is no room for negativity in my system and I let it show in my songs. I like to bring hope to people.”
That's the attitude which has drawn fans to her, many of whom think it is her time to sweep prizes at the next GMA for how well the title track and other songs from the Edin Ben album have done so far.
Sounding philosophical, she said it is God who crowns kings and queens and she will wear her crown at the appropriate time. To her, putting out messages that people find useful at this point in time brings satisfaction that she truly cherishes.
She also cherishes the faith Big Ben Music Production had and still has in her ability to deliver. She is very confident that the next album she is releasing for the label will be bigger and better than the two previous collections.
Expectedly, she is working on the new stuff with her dependable recording engineer, Nacy. Also a singer, Nacy did duets with Ohemaa on the Edin Ben, Menwu Da and Fefeefe tracks. She said she really values Nacy's input and is happy an engineer like him handles her material.
There is an impending trip for her and Kojo Antwi to the United States sometime next year. It would be her first performance out of this country and she is eagerly looking forward to it.
She is also looking forward to projects she wants to do by herself which include setting up a foundation to help needy children.
“I love the children I teach and try to help some of them in various ways. My heart really aches when I see how needy some of them are. I plan to expand and also formalise the assistance to them. God has been very good to me in many ways and I also have to give something back.”
2007 has been a wonderful year for Ohemaa. With her positive turn of mind, she is looking ahead to more people liking and benefitting from the worthy messages in her music in the coming year.
By Nii Laryea Korley